One of the most wanted men in the world was brought to justice in 2003. His name: Thomas B. Kin Chong, more commonly known as Tommy Chong.
In an operation that cost over 12 million dollars and took the efforts of over 2000 law enforcement officers, the notorious and dangerous Tommy Chong along with 55 other sellers of drug paraphenalia were arrested and brought to justice. Thank God for the DEA.
I am being sarcastic of course. Tommy Chong was targeted by an ambitious US prosecutor who wanted to make her name by putting the famous comedian behind bars. His crime that got him on the National Radar was being part owner of a family business that sold glass pipes, better known as bongs. When Tommy was brought to justice none other than John Ashcroft congratulated the prosecutor and the agents for the fine job they did bringing down the “dangerous” Tommy Chong.
Ten years ago, I like most people was focused on the war on Terror and the invasion of Iraq. This trivial matter of a Hollywood type going to prison didn’t really concern me. Maybe I thought it was a total waste of resources but I didn’t give it a second thought. But now in light of what has occurred in the last ten years, Tommy Chong’s being sentenced to 9 months is prison over selling glass pipes holds new meaning for me today.
I came across the story of Tommy Chong’s persecution by a wonderful documentary called “a/k/a Tommy Chong.” It’s on Netflix right now and I highly (no pun intended) recommend it. The documentary highlights the absurdity of Marijuana prohibition and the ruthless ambition of politicians who prosecute it.
The way the Tommy Chong bust went down and how the plea deal came about should make any American sick to their stomachs and ashamed of the Federal Government. The DEA set up a sting to bust drug paraphernalia businesses and targeted specifically the Chong’s family business, called “Nice Dreams”. Long story short the DEA posing as a head shop in Pennsylvania (which at the time it was illegal to ship bongs to) tricked the staff of Nice Dreams into sending them boxes of Bongs. (Some claim including Tommy Chong it was a DEA agent plant in the Nice Dreams organization who processed the order.) This led to a 6am morning raid on Tommy Chong’s personal residence in an upscale California Neighborhood and a total closure of the Nice Dreams Factory.
Tommy Chong was committed to taking his case to court but instead was forced to take a plea deal, like over 90% of defendants in America today. He took the deal because the prosecutors were threatening to go after his wife and son if he didn’t. After he emerged from meeting with prosecutors he uttered a phrase that struck a little too close to the truth when he said “I guess my glass bongs were the only weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration has found.”
This statement along with his “glamorization of pot smoking in his movies garnered him a 9 month prison term. This was by far the harshest sentence of any of the 55 defendants arrested in the DEA operation. When Tommy Chong was released from prions he began doing interviews. The one thing that everyone asked him was “what was prison like?” To that he would always respond “you will find out”. He explained that the way the laws are written they (The State) can put anyone the want to into prison.
Drug Prohibition isn’t a drug user vs. non-drug user issue. It’s a freedom issue and Tommy Chong gets that.
What I took away from the movie along wtih the absurdity of drug Prohibition is that Tommy Chong and his wife are solid people. They seem happy and loving. They are adults and have the right to ingest a plant if they choose to. Maybe the world would be a better place if everyone did. I don’t know that for sure but I do know for certain is that what I put into my body is my choice and no governmental agency has authority to interfere in my decision.
The drug war has cost over a trillion dollars since 1970, arrested over 20,000,000 individuals just for marijuana, and killed tens of thousands of individuals. The time to end the insanity is now and at the very least Legalize Marijuana. Freedom is not divisible.