One of the first comedians to be open about his marijuana use, Cheech Marin has been on the front lines of comedy and cannabis since he first rose to prominence as one half of the iconic stoner duo Cheech & Chong. He’s a staple of Americana who bridged the divide between mainstream entertainment and the cannabis realm throughout his successful career.
Leafly got a chance to chat with the legend himself about Cheech’s Private Stash, the most interesting person he’s smoked with, his favorite on-set movie experience, and more.
“I smoke not only for the high, but for the taste.”
Leafly: Did you have any idea that cannabis would be so instrumental in your career when you first started your journey?
Cheech Marin: When I first started my journey? I was trying to figure out how to get back to my apartment [laughs]. It’s been a lifelong, enlightening journey. I had no idea there was a career [in cannabis], but if there was a career open at that time, I’d have joined that program because everybody was doing it. It was all we talked about.
What’s your preferred method of consumption these days?
I have a pipe company, so I like pipes. I like the taste of bud. I smoke not only for the high, but for the taste.
What strains will be included in your new cannabis product line?
What kind of strains? God, I have them written down, but it will change over the course of time. We are curators, but no matter what it is, it’s always gonna be good.
So it will always be the best?
It’s not always gonna be the best, but it will always be good. Because who’s to say who’s the best? But our strains will always be good. And that’s all a stoner can ask for, right?
[His manager, Lisa Marcus, interjects.] “The idea is that Cheech would personally curate the strains at that moment. So a strain that might be great for November could change in January.”
Marin: Yes, it is under my curatorial province. But it will always be good!
You have your own line of mezcal. Do you like your mezcal smoky, funky, or both?
Tres Papalote! “Three Kites,” because there’s three different alcoholic expressions in our line. It’s really good! All mezcals are smoky to one degree or another. [They vary in] just what kind of [smokiness] and what kind of concentration you’ve got, and from what agave plant [the mezcal] comes from.
Do you have any strains that go with your mezcal?
Not yet, but I’m working on it. I’m going to do extensive field research!
Tommy Chong also has a line of cannabis products. Did you two compare notes or share perspectives on what it’s like to create and launch your respective products?
Not really. We both have our own interpretation of it and we’ll see what happens. Hopefully, everybody does well.
You recently released a memoir about your life. What inspired you to sit down and write your life story?
Well, I was getting old and close to the end there, and I could see the dimming of the light at the end of the tunnel. No, they offered me a deal. I wanted to have a task and sit down and develop a kind of style, and this is the style I developed–this biography kind of telling.
What was your writing process like?
I get up in the morning and write. Have a cup of coffee, go read the newspaper. Just write. Maybe until about 12:00 or 1:00, three or four hours, and then I’m done. I have a certain energy band when I’m on a project because every day you don’t do it, you get out of shape and lose the intensity of your train of thought.
You’re quite the collector of Chicano art. What drew you to this art movement?
“We used to get high together and drink and every once in awhile, we’d go out and take some acid. He was my good friend. I really miss him.”
Oh, some guy owed me money [laughs]. No, I’ve always been interested in art from an early age. I’d go to the library and take out all the art books, and I taught myself about art. I started getting more interested in contemporary art, going to galleries in LA, and that’s when I discovered the Chicano painters there. They’d already been out there for a while, you know, but it was fresh for me and I recognized right away that these are some good painters, because I’d seen good painting all my life and so I started collecting them. It changes your perspective, and sometimes you need your perspective changed. It’s all about being in a state of being.
Can you tell us about any upcoming film projects you’re working on?
Oh yeah, I’ve got new movie I just finished [The War With Grandpa]. I hope it turns out good. It’s got Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, myself, and Uma Thurman.
Wow, that’s a great cast.
I know, right?! Are you kidding, I get to work with Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken. Christopher Walken is just the oddest fucking guy. He’s a funny guy.
What’s been your favorite film project throughout your storied career?
My favorite film project? Oh man, maybe Tin Cup. I had a great time on that movie. I mean, not that I didn’t have a good time on all the movies. Especially the old ones, like Born in East L.A. But yeah, Tin Cup. We sat on golf courses and at strip bars. How can you go wrong?
Who would you say is the most interesting person you’ve ever smoked with?
Oh man, that’s a really interesting question. ‘Cause I used to get high with Einstein all the time*. No, but probably Timothy Leary.
He was a really good friend of mine. We used to get high together and drink and every once in awhile, we’d go out and take some acid. Yeah, he was my good friend. I really miss him.
Do you have any advice for someone who’s new to cannabis?
New to cannabis? Don’t pay retail.
[His manager jumps in.] “Cheech! You’ll put us out of business!”
Marin, laughing: No, buy as much as you can. Because you never know. You never know. And it’ll always be good.
*Writer’s note: He did not actually smoke with Albert Einstein. Einstein died in 1955. (But he really got me with that one.)