Bernie Sanders Drops Tommy Chong: ‘It Was an Insult’

Tommy Chong was scheduled to be a guest speaker for a Bernie Sanders rally being held at Lincoln Park in East Los Angeles on Monday. Just hours before the event, Chong was dropped from the schedule. In an email composed to The Hollywood Reporter, a Sanders representative claimed it was due to “a scheduling conflict.” Tommy received the invitation on Sunday, and on Monday morning, he made an appearance on a radio show promoting the event. After hearing the news, Chong told The Hollywood Reporter the following.

“Now I’m going to look like a fool, like one of those guys who starts bragging about something that isn’t true, Chong said, and I don’t like that because my endorsement means a lot because of what I have gone through and what the whole [marijuana] culture has gone through…It’s lip service to get the votes, but they don’t want to endorse what I stand for and what I’ve stood for all my professional career; it was an insult.”

Chong would also go on Twitter, tweeting, “Unfortunately after months of support and endorsement videos, I have to report that @BernieSanders pulled away his invite to me.”

The legalization of marijuana is a subject that has driven Tommy Chong for decades. Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin became a famed comic duo working under the moniker of Cheech & Chong. The pair released nine comedy albums, including hits like Earache My Eye, and eight movies, including Up in Smoke and Still Smokin. In 1985, the duo split up as Marin wanted to focus on a solo acting career. Through the past decades, Tommy has continued his advocacy for the use and legalization of marijuana. Tommy Chong is the owner of Chong’s Choice, a chain of retail stores where consumers can purchase marijuana and paraphernalia.

In a 2012 interview with Current TV Chong said the following.

“Marijuana enhances the creative ability of artists, that’s well known. That goes all the way back to Rembrandt and Van Gogh, for instance… You wouldn’t have a computer if it wasn’t for pot. These aren’t guys that are smoking pot just to relax or to cure some medical ailment. These are guys that are smoking pot so they could get the ideas, the creative ideas that pot creates.”

He has also spoken extensively on the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Chong has been battling rectal cancer and, paired with chemo radiation treatment, he has also been using marijuana. He says that after one more treatment, he should be cancer free. In an interview with Freedom Leaf, Tommy explained the details.

“There are so many things that pot encourages. It encourages your curiosity. But more than anything, it calms the brain. Pot calms everything down. Next thing you know, you’re not having seizures. You’re healing. When you sleep and calm down, then your body can heal itself. You’re body is a phenomenal piece of art. It can do everything itself. It can heal. Pot calms everything down. I couldn’t live without it.”

Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who is advocating ending the federal ban on recreational marijuana use. At a Michigan campaign rally in March, Sanders delivered the following statement.

“We also know, and people can argue this ’til the cows come home and scientists dispute it, marijuana is not heroin. I’m not here advocating for marijuana; I’ve done marijuana twice when I was very young, and what it did for me, is it made me cough a lot — that was my response, but I gather other people have had different experiences. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug alongside of heroin…and that is why I believe we should take marijuana out of the federal Controlled Substances Act.”

Bernie Sanders rallys at Lincoln Park
EAST LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 23: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a campaign rally at Lincoln Park. [Photo by David McNew/Getty Images]

It is because of this stance by Bernie Sanders that Tommy Chong endorsed the presidential candidate. In January, Tommy released a PSA by the Grassroots Community endorsing Bernie Sanders for President. Perhaps it was cold feet from Bernie that led to the campaign dropping Chong from the rally, or maybe it really was a scheduling issue. It seems that Chong may be giving Sanders the benefit of the doubt since Tommy recently tweeted, “Hope to continue my support, reschedule, and continue activism, political change and promoting peace anywhere possible.”

[Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]