Operation Pipe Dreams cost the American taxpayer an estimated $12 million and took up the time and resources of over 2000 law enforcement officers, and the most tangible result stemming from that miscarriage of justice was the long -awaited reunion of Cheech & Chong.
Cheech lobbied for Chong’s release on The Tonight Show while his former partner was locked up. After Chong’s release they reunited for a sold-out national “Light Up America!” tour that was quickly followed by a documentary concert film. When Cheech & Chong’s Hey Watch This was released I interviewed Tommy for www.hightimes.com, and after we got through with all the pot talk, I told him I wanted to write about pot and parenting, and we started talking about our kids. Unpublished until now, this is my favorite reefer dad talking about being a dad on reefer, circa 2010. He needed only the slightest push to gush about his kids:
RC: So this Reefer Dad thing, how did you handle it?
TC: What I’ve done with kids… I raised them the way my Dad raised me. You know, my Dad, he finished high school, but that was it. He was a truck driver who took comic books with him to read. He used to come in our room and take a stack of comic books to take on the road with him, because, you know, he wasn’t a deep reader. And my Mom had a grade three education. She could read and write but she had all this natural knowledge. What they did is they relied on their kids for everything. We had to be their eyes and ears into the world. It really made us grow up. We weren’t babies at all. It was the other way around.
And so when my kids came up I used the same methods. So they were always looking out for me. They still do. They still do.
My youngest was the only one. I caught him with the mall rats smoking cigarettes and I told him, “No. You don’t smoke cigarettes. You want to smoke, smoke pot!’ So that’s what he did. He quit cigarettes and started smoking pot. But he wasn’t a big pot head, probably because I told him to (LAUGHS). He doesn’t smoke at all (now). Paris does on occasion, y’know, he’s like me. But they’re both into health. My plan was really to get them into health. You know, my wife’s into ‘Lessons. Lessons. Lessons. School. School. School.’ So I told my youngest boy you can stay in school for the rest of your life, you know? I’ll support you. And he’s taken me up on it! (LAUGHS) He’s got a degree in music now. He’s in university and he’s loving it! And Paris is my manager.
RC: Paris is your manager now?
TC: Yes, he is.
RC: I didn’t know that.
TC: Paris went back to university when I went to jail. Precious — All my daughters are accomplished actresses. Rae Dawn , Bobbi and Precious (as well as Chong’s adopted son, Marcus, who played Tank in The Matrix. rc) I never had much to do with girls. The boys, I did, but girls – you know – they slam doors in your face. (LAUGHTER).
RC: I got the door slammed in my face this morning! (MUCH LAUGHTER)
TC: The best way to raise girls is to give them money and get out of the way
RC: I’m glad to hear you say that because I thought I was buying her off. I am buying her off.
TC: Of course. (MUCH LAUGHTER)
Four out of his six children joined Tommy on Celebrity Family Feud in 2018. From l. to r: Robbi, Rae Dawn, Tommy, Precious & Paris. Missing from this family photo are sons Marcus and Gilbran and Tommy’s long-suffering, incandescent wife, Shelby Chong.