Talking to Cheech Marin is exactly what you’d expect in some ways— he’s playful, meditative and approachable, like many of the on-screen characters he’s portrayed over his decades-long career. In fact, his friendly nature is probably the reason why he agreed to sit down with ONE Cannabis on short notice at Rooster Magazine’s award ceremony in Denver. In other ways, chatting with the cannabis icon was unexpected. Cheech Marin is many things, and he doesn’t mind talking about any of them, leading to some unexpected segues.
Sitting in the neon-spewing club that served as both a dance floor and nerve center for the ceremonies, he chatted with a group of friends before making his way over to the interview with a cocktail and a smile. In just a few minutes, he covered the gradual evolution of comedy, the country’s current political state and his passion for Chicano art. We also talked about weed, a lot.
Here’s what didn’t make the video, and the best parts that did.
Cheech and Chong consider themselves “Middle of the Road Dopers”
Strange thing to say about guys who smoked a joint the size of a baby elephant’s trunk on film, but it checks out. The two pot pros were the first to do it, but they’re far from the most outrageous. They ushered in a niche genre that’s flourished and bolstered the careers of some of the most famous comedians of this century.
“We stole home plate, when nobody wanted to do it in our era,” Cheech said. “But everyone found their way in— it’s mainstream now. We always said we were middle of the road, you just don’t realize what that means at first.”
He wants legal cannabis for his grandkids, but not for the reasons you think
Like many of us, Cheech has seen firsthand the benefits of medicinal cannabis. As marijuana becomes more accepted in the eyes of the law, there’s a good chance new remedies will be readily available to the next generation. The current testing for medicinal properties of the plant is a strong step forward.
“The medical application of marijuana will be its strongest factor. It’s been around for a long time and used as a curative in so many societies. We can help solve health problems that we have, especially for children.” he said. “I have kids, and I have grandkids and I want them to live happy, good lives.”
Best way to celebrate 4:20
“Celebrate with your friends— it’s a daily meditation”
Take his advice.
Timothy Leary, the most interesting smoking partner
Timothy Leary was a thought leader of the counterculture in the 60’s and a major proponent of psychedelics as a method of intellectual pursuit. He was also the most interesting person Cheech ever smoked with, which is just as impressive in some circles.
The LSD pioneer believed in the therapeutic effects of the drug and conducted experiments under the Harvard Psilocybin Project in the early 60’s before being fired from the university. Because of his notable exploits, he was a guest at 36 different prisons worldwide, and Nixon once called him “the most dangerous man in America.” Cheech was mum on the details of their smoke sessions, but it’s easy to believe they were remarkable to say the least. Leary died of cancer in 1996, but the intrigue of his life and work has kept him in the public’s mind since.
“He was funny, brilliant, insightful, aware. A great friend,” Cheech reflected. “I miss him every day.”
He’s in charge of a museum
Sure it’s funny, but is it art?
Cheech’s passion for Chicano art is so well known that the city of Riverside, California partnered with him to launch a museum entirely dedicated to the Chicano art movement which is still active today.
“It’s a long era of really talented painters throughout society, in many places at once,” said Cheech. “You’re seeing a real expression of American soul told from Chicano point of views.”
The collection boasts a stunning arrangement that reminds people that Chicano art is very much American art as well.
“It’s a big landmark,” he went on. “We’re factoring in the Latino element into our society that has given us so many things.”
Well said, Cheech.