Written by Fumo Verde
This is a documentary about how our government, in this case George W. Bush’s judicial branch, screwed Tommy Chong. Yes, screwed. Director Josh Gilbert takes us on a fascinating tour of this bodily invasion, providing us with unbelievable details about how Bush’s court systems works and how Tommy used his legal woes to his comic advantage. You almost feel bad laughing knowing that he ends up doing time, but his comic genius cannot be suppressed, nor will his spirit be beat down. Stoner nation, this is a must see for us so we can learn the truth about what happened to one of the icons of our culture.
So what happened? In 2003 the U.S. Justice Dept. decided to add a little more to the cost for The War on Drugs with another cool 12 million by coming up with Operation Pipe Dreams. Attorney General John Ashcroft must have thought this sounded like a movie that Tommy would be perfect for, so he brought in U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan to get him to take the lead role. Like a Canadian Mountie, Buchanan always gets her stoner, which isn’t really hard to do, just follow the green haze along with the smell of skunk and the flicking of Bics and boom, there we are.
Call them water pipes if you must, but we all know a bong when we see one. There are a few states which won’t let you ship bongs into their state, such as Pennsylvania, so if you make bongs and someone calls you from there, and you ship the bongs to that person it is illegal. Chong Glass knew the laws and if you watch you will hear them telling the customer on numerous recorded phone conversations, “Sorry sir, it is a federal offense to ship to your state, so we cannot do this.” The customer, a DEA agent or maybe an agent form the Federal Bureau of Intimidation, was persistent and even offered to pick up his product. The transaction went through and the product was ready for pick up, but the Pennsylvania customer never showed. This bogged down the production line so Chong Glass was forced to ship them. This trap, along with Operation Headhunter cost the tax payers around $12 million and caught 55 glass dealers, yet only one was sentenced to prison. Can you guess who it was?
Tommy’s case never went to trial due to the threat of incarceration to Shelby and Paris Chong, his wife and son. He copped a plea but was promised there would be no jail time yet served nine months. He chided on a radio show one day, “The only weapons of mass destruction the Bush administration ever found were my bongs.”
Gilbert turns this sad and blatant use of the law into a comical but scary documentary showing us that our government, no matter who is in charge, will take you down if they want to. Archival footage of Chong with Cheech on stage and in radio interviews from back in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s gives the film a backdrop adding color and body to the story. From pre-jail Tommy to post-jail and a little bit beyond, Gilbert takes us through the whole spectrum of events. All of this is pieced together with bits of Tommy doing some stand-up, and why not since he has some new material now. If a person had never heard of Cheech and Chong and saw this film, they would understand what was going on; you can’t get lost on this, even after a massive rip of a five-footer. As for the extras on this DVD, there’s a “night before” home video of the Chong family and a special something of which I really don’t want to give.
a/k/a Tommy Chong is funny and you will laugh but at the same time one must think our government, especially this administration, was way out of line here, but then again they acquaint pot smoking with terrorism. “If you smoke pot, you are aiding the terrorists” was the mantra after 9/11 but Stoner Nation isn’t as stupid as this administration. What happened to Tommy was bullshit just as are the raids on the medical distributor shops out here in California. The war on drugs is a lost cause and trying to scare us by locking up Tommy didn’t help.
If anything it has motivated Stoner Nation to get off the couch and help fight the war on weed, somewhat. This film is a voice to that cause and Tommy is one of the flag bearers. This film is a wake up call to Stoner Nation and a watch your ass call to Woody Haralson, either way if you hear strange knock at the door, lock it and yell back “Dave’s not here!”