Tommy Chong in jail because of his celebrity?

It seems that Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong and That 70’s Show fame) was sentenced to 9 months in a federal prison for “conspiring to sell bongs and other drug paraphernalia over the Internet.”

A snippet from the above linked article:

Question: Is Chong in prison because he is famous and the judge thought he could make a name for himself in the War on Drugs[sup]TM[/sup]?

9 months in federal prison for bongs? Seems a little harsh to me. Course I imagine he was going to sell across state lines which is always a bad idea. So I think the sentance was too harsh but he must have known there would be a price to pay so I won’t shed any tears for him.

Either the First Amendment was repealed when I wasn’t looking, or someone ought to tell Ms. Houghton that becoming wealthy by making movies that “glamoriz[ed] drug use and trivializing law enforcement” is still legal in the United States.

Geez, John Ashcroft must be really bored for something to do if he’s resorting to chasing such penny-ante issues…

Tommy Chong told a high level friend that the DOJ threatened to go after his wife and son if he didn’t cop to a plea.

He was sentenced on ‘9/11/2003’

There are no States Rights.

Yet Rush Limbaugh goes free.

As others said, since the judge not only sentenced him unusually harshly, but also cited his movies as evidence of his contempt for law enforcement and the law, I’d say it’s pretty damn obvious he’s in jail for his celebrity.

For selling bongs? How do you get arrested for selling plastic tubes? I know they are commonley used for drug taking but still…I mean what next? Rolling paper companies, they must sell a lot of kingsize papers to pot heads…tinfoil manufacturers? A lot of heroin addicts use that stuff…Man, Evian is gonna be up shit creek, thats crack pipe material…Seriousley, where do you draw the line? In the UK it is legal to sell anything like bongs, pipes etc, but it isn’t legal to use them to smoke anything illegal through. This makes sense to me because there are a lot of alternatives to marijuana out there that are perfectley legal but require a water pipe. And to get in further trouble because he starred in films that ‘glamorize’ and ‘trivialize’ drug use!!! What the fuck is that about? I think that the U.S government needs to sort out this ‘grey’ area in the law.

I have to ask, what celebrity?


It’s all about context. If an item is commonly used, or closely associated with the sale or use of drugs, it becomes “drug paraphenalia.” For example, plastic baggies can be deemed to be drug paraphenalia if they’re found near a stash of pot. Same with rolling papers.

Likewise, a water pipe is only a “bong” if it’s associated with smoking marijuana. My local store neatly skirts around the issue by selling big tins of tobacco on the shelf next to them. I seriously doubt if any of their customers use the bongs to smoke tobacco, but you get the idea. (I once asked the clerk if they had ever sold any of the tobacco, and he just laughed.)

Does it seem likely that he’ll win on appeal? I mean, it can’t be fair that other people doing the same thing get way lighter sentences.

The whole issue is him seeling them accross state lines, i.e over the net. Thats when the feds come in and state law no longer applies.

Yes, theyre trying to make an example of one of the best social satirists Canada or the US has ever produced.

I think the fact that he helped to give Hendrix his start back in the day when Chong owned a club in Vancouver (which was one of the few clubs that black bands from Seattle could play at) should count in his favor, if rediculous reasons like pointing out how silly cops often are counted.

Celebrity is evidently a valid reason for targeting people for prosecution. Look at Martha Stewart – anyone else in her situation would have been handed a quick plea and a fine, if anything. Prosecutors see celebrity as giving more bang for the buck – publicity=prevention.

WILLASS, I don’t think you appreciate that the United States has a major drug problem: a lot of our leaders act like drug addicts.


If the Feds went after Joe Whatever for selling bongs across state lines, the news services would not pick it up, it would not get any public discussion. Throw Tommy Chong into the clink and it’s national news (at least on page 4 or something like that).

Marley23 i’m not quite sure I fully understand what you are implying, is it that you believe you leaders to be idiots because they act like drug addicts? Or that I don’t appreciate the scale of the drug problem in the U.S? Either way I appreciate both statements…:wink:

Marley23 i’m not quite sure I fully understand what you are implying, is it that you believe you leaders to be idiots because they act like drug addicts? Or that I don’t appreciate the scale of the drug problem in the U.S? Either way I appreciate the point of both statements…:wink:

Chong rolled the dice and lost, but so did many other “glass” manufacturers. It doesn’t seem he was singled out any more than the others, many of whom are also doing time.


Fomr the BBC web service

Nothing about any of this is fair, but Chong’s sentence doesn’t seem to be atypical:

Also from the article: