Cheech Marin Remembers Running Out of Weed Once, Plus More LOL Tales From a Stoner Icon

March 12, 2024

Read the full interview on LAMag.com!

When it comes to stoner comedy, there’s no greater duo than Cheech & Chong.

But Cheech Marin’s story goes much deeper than smoky stand-up; he’s a cultural icon.

Hailing from South Los Angeles, Marin is the definition of a multi-hyphenate, wearing the hat of actor, director, musician, author, Chicano art collector, entrepreneur, activist and influencer. He’s also now the subject of a documentary — Cheech and Chong’s Last Movie — about his trailblazing career alongside Tommy Chong. The movie premieres tonight at South By Southwest in Austin and promises a “mix of archival madness and cinematic road trip … a true-life tale of fame and friendship stranger (and funnier) than fiction.”

Marin recently made an appearance at L.A.’s OG Cannabis Cafe, where he was debuting his new Cheeche’lada drink — a 4/20 version of the michelada, a traditional Mexican drink made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices and chili peppers. It even comes with a reusable top that doubles as a warning label: don’t drink the whole can!

Fans and low riders were lined up La Brea Ave., eager to get a chance to meet the man proudly “Born in East L.A.” who now has his own museum called The Cheech (The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture) located in Riverside, California.

Los Angeles spoke with Marin about his weed habits and more.

Los Angeles: How much were you smoking back in the day versus today?
Cheech Marin: Well I was younger then. Back in the day, I smoked more. But I smoke about the same. [laughs]

How much were you smoking back then?
Oh you know, as much as I had. It was a lot harder to get a hold of back in the day, but… we’re here now.

It’s been said that the weed today is way stronger than in the ’60s and ’70s. What does that say about the weed you were smoking?
That it wasn’t working out much. The weed today is much stronger.

Has the way you consume changed over time?
Yeah, I’m really satisfied and one hit at a time usually. That’s it, put it away. Then when I’m ready again, do it again.

What’s your threshold for running out of weed?
When I don’t have it, that’s the threshold. [Laughs.] Usually people give it to me so much, that I never run out of weed. But the other day, I did. I didn’t have any weed. It was a long three minutes. [Laughs.]

Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin arrive at the 'Cheech & Chong's Last Movie' world premiere as part of SXSW 2024 Conference and Festivals held at The Paramount Theatre on March 12, 2024 in Austin, Texas.

Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin arrive at the ‘Cheech & Chong’s Last Movie’ world premiere as part of SXSW 2024 Conference and Festivals held at The Paramount Theatre on March 12, 2024 in Austin.

Photo by Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images

You opened three dispensaries in Massachusetts. What’s the reality of opening a retail shop?
It’s hard. It’s hard just like any business. It’s hard work and you have to stay on it. But as long as the product’s good, it’ll be okay. I think.

Cheech and Chong put its name on a ton of products. How do you decide what to back or or who to partner with?
On the weed, I usually leave it up to my son Joe because he’s the expert. He’s my official taster. He’s much better at it than I am, because I have no idea.

What’s the hot cannabis product of the future?

Edibles, any kind of edibles. Or drinks, they do really well. And now we’re combining it. Micheladas I love, but Cheeche-lada’s I love more.

What’s special about the Cheeche’Lada?
It has the taste of beer, but no beer. And it has weed in it. It’s a good one.

Cheech Marin

It comes with a reusable top, does that also serve as a warning label to not drink the whole thing?
Oh yeah. That’s really a part of this. You can have a little bit, it’ll get you high enough, then put it away.

Celebrity strains don’t have a great reputation for high-quality smoke. Would you agree?
I don’t know other celebrity strains, but we do. Because my motto’s always been “it will always be good.” My theory was if it is always good, it’ll be successful. So we concentrate on making the weed good that we pick.

What does 4/20 mean to you?It means it’s time! On 4/20, I’ll be working. That’s our big holiday, so we work.

Any tips for how to do 4/20?
With somebody you love.

What’s your fondest 4/20 memory to date?
I have this museum in Riverside. And I was looking for a sign [telling me] that I should do this, because it was a big decision. I asked the people, “What is the size of this museum?” They said, “Well, 66,420 square feet.” [gasps] That’s the sign! 420.

What’s the most pressing issue in the cannabis industry currently?
Getting it legal federally. The whole game is going to change when that happens.

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