Cannabis history came full circle Saturday when Cheech and Chong — the two men responsible for creating the stoner comedy film genre in the 1970s — sat down outside a legal cannabis store in Tacoma.
The line to meet Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong twisted like a snake through the parking lot of Commencement Bay Cannabis Saturday.
Hundreds of fans, many clutching albums from the 1970s and 1980s, kept their eyes glued on the comedic duo as the line crept closer.
Marin and Chong spent two hours signing autographs and posing for photos. They were there to help celebrate the Puayllup Tribe’s grand opening of its second cannabis store.
“They’re making you work?” a fan asked Chong when she reached the table.
“This is not work,” Chong replied.
Profits from the store, located across Portland Avenue from the tribe’s gigantic new casino under construction, support education and training for tribal members.
“I’m at a loss for words,” said Ty Satiacum, the store’s chief of staff. “It’s a surreal moment. To have icons of this nature. The ones that were really the pioneers of establishing that culture for the cannabis industry to get where it is today.”
Marin and Chong created the stoner comedy genre of film with 1978’s “Up in Smoke”. The Grammy-winners released dozens of albums and films. A common theme in both their stage and film comedy was the pursuit and enjoyment of marijuana.
Eventually, the pair split up to embark on solo careers.
Chong had legal troubles — and was briefly incarcerated — for marijuana-related crimes. He recently appeared on the FOX show, “The Masked Singer”.
Marin has had a busy acting career in movies and television. He’s also a noted collector and lender of Chicano art.
The pair reunited in the last decade and now perform together again — often at Indian casinos. They were scheduled to take the stage at the Emerald Queen Casino later on Saturday.
April 20 is celebrated as a pot holiday by some fans of cannabis.
Plenty of tribal members were on hand for the event including chairman Bill Sterud.
“Everybody’s talking about Cheech and Chong,” Sterud said. “It helps bring awareness to our cannabis program. Not just commercially but medically.”
Puyallup elder Teddy Simchen, 67, said Saturday that he listened to the pair’s comedy albums in his 20s.
“It’s an honor to meet someone from your past,” Simchen said. “They’ve lasted as long as you have.”