From Counter-Culture to ‘Essential’, Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin launches Cheech’s Stash in California and Washington
Quarantine, Planet Earth – We’re living in strange times indeed. Last week, while minding my own business quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic; my colleagues at Puff Digital sent me an interview request from Cheech Marin’s publicist. The request was to help promote Cheech’s Stash, Marin’s legal cannabis venture. The press release read that Cheech’s Stash strains Wedding Pie (Indica dominant hybrid) and Bio Diesel (Sativa dominant hybrid) would be available soon in 1/8 jars and 1 gram mylar-bags and vapes will be hitting legal dispensaries this month in California.
As well, already available, a line of products in Washington State, Colorado, and Nevada including dabs, vapes, and pre-rolls.
‘How cool is that?’ I thought. I would personally be all over Cheech Marin approved strains of weed.
An even stranger sign of the times; legal cannabis dispensaries across California, Washington, and Canada have been deemed ‘essential’ by their respective governing bodies. However, if you’re Cheech Marin, the whole idea makes you giggle.
Like many Skunk readers, I try to maintain positivity about the regulated market. I hope it finds itself one day. I hope it turns out to be more than ‘big business’. And I hope that all who wish to be involved can be involved. That’s why when I hear about traditional cannabis figures like Cheech Marin finding a home in the regulated market, I get a warm feeling that gives me hope.
I hopped all over the opportunity to chat with Cheech. Chatting with one of the greatest comedians and counter-culture icons of all time would be a great way to spend an afternoon. Pandemic or not. Admittedly, I’m also a fan and struggled with the decision to wear my ‘Dave’s Not Here’ t-shirt, a bit most fans will remember. All in all, I opted to not wear that shirt. I responded quickly and I put in a request to interview via Zoom. Lisa, Cheech’s publicist, approved and we set a time.
I set up the Zoom meeting, sent the links, and prepped my notes. What happened next was possibly the best introduction to Cheech Marin a lifelong fan could have received.
From Counter Culture to Essential: The Origin Of Cheech & Chong
I sat down at 5:30 pm EST to chat. Cheech was already logged on and streaming from what looked like a home office but was away from his computer. His office walls were covered in memorabilia from his career. A career that spans over 50 years. A career that exploded the counter-culture in 1971 with the release of Cheech Marin & Tommy Chong’s debut album ‘Cheech & Chong’. I said hello to Lisa who was sitting in on the call, and sure enough, in walked Cheech Marin. Complete with a rainbow fisherman’s cap on, looking healthy, happy, a little high, and undeniably Cheech.
He then wandered up to the camera and began trying to figure out the audio. For the next twenty minutes, I was morphed into a comedic trope of trying this, try that, and ‘can you hear me now?’. Foreheads and nostrils, calls to Lisa who then called in IT help from her colleague Ryan, who then suggested we get help from Cheech’s wife who also couldn’t figure things out.
We ended up suggesting headphones, and that was fun too. It was perfect. I was a little high and this routine immediately made me feel at ease. It was as if I was preparing to chat with an aunt or uncle who had very little need for technology. And let’s face it, for lifelong stoners, Cheech & Chong were either the ideal ‘cool uncles’ to dream about having, or something the cool uncle you did have introduced you to.
The headphones ended up being the solution and we jumped right in. Being Canadian, and having interviewed Tommy Chong the year before on Puff Digital’s Into The Weeds Podcast, I knew the duo met in Vancouver during the end of the Vietnam War. Cheech, a US Citizen, was living in Canada in protest at the time. I made sure to recap.
The two started in an improv group that ended up whittling down to just the two of them. Cheech, who’s given name is Richard Marin, started performing with Tommy Chong at the Shanghai Club. The ShangHai Club was an adult club in downtown Vancouver owned by Chong’s family. This is where the iconic duo cut their teeth and the legend was born. Pushing the boundaries of comedic norms using music, profanity, and of course, making light of the use of ‘banned substances’.
After that, the next 50 years saw the duo put out 9 studio albums, 9 feature films, countless charting singles, and saw both Cheech & Chong have wild success in their solo careers after going their separate ways to explore different creative avenues in the mid to late 80s. Later in life, the duo rejoined forces, began touring, writing, producing, and creating together again… when not exploring their own respective, legal cannabis ventures.
However, the whole idea still makes Cheech Marin giggle to himself. Stating later during our discussion that he was surprised it’s taken the world so long to begin legalizing weed. Even funnier to him, was that weed was deemed ‘essential’ where it had been legalized.
From Counter Culture to Essential: About Cheech’s Stash
Cheech’s Stash’s website describes the brand as ‘a little piece of paradise for the connoisseur of pleasurable living’. The company was built with his daughter Jasmine, and son Joey-Dee. Cheech personally selects strains and works with master growers to sustainably produce an all-natural selection of quality cannabis products. With Cheech as the official tester, “You can bet it’s going to be good” was the message Cheech wanted to get across.
Cheech’s Stash is essentially a licensing-deal rather than a licensed producer or farmer. Growers or manufacturers present their products to the team at Cheech’s Stash, and the company begins testing. His fans and personal brand need to know that this isn’t some deal that Marin blindly signs off on. Cheech and his team test and approve every strain or product that is being considered by the brand. Only through vigorous ‘exploration’ and scrutiny does a product become a part of Cheech’s Stash. How does one get the job of testing Cheech Marin’s weed with him? I don’t know, but I’m preparing my resume.
In my short time chatting with Cheech I could immediately see why people are so drawn to him. He’s humble, energetic and can make you laugh just by focusing on one silly thought and repeating it. At the time of our chat, he couldn’t let go of the humor behind the idea that cannabis dispensaries have been deemed ‘essential’. A thought that must be profoundly hilarious for someone who’s been saying legalize weed since before Sgt. Stedenko, a widely popular bit and character based on a real-life and now deceased RCMP officer, Abe Snidanko, was a household name.
Marin only got serious when we discussed his second knee replacement surgery. Marin had had his knee replaced for the second time this past November. Post-surgery, Marin used cannabis products to combat and manage his pain and symptoms. The previous surgery, he had used opioids, which he has since sworn off. “I had less pain and I healed faster,” Marin said, before pausing and showing a brief hostility towards opioids.
He then immediately lightened the mood again by saying, ‘because we’re essential’.
I shared an anecdote with him that ‘essential’ Canadian Dispensaries, at least the ones here in Ontario, are serving curbside cannabis. An implementation made funnier when described as ‘the government selling you bags of weed in a parking lot’. A notion that made the comic giant laugh out loud.
However, for now, Cannabis aficionados from all around the world will have to visit California and Washington to get the goods. We recommend you do, essentially, if you see a logo for Cheech’s Stash on a product, you can bet it’ll be good.
Visit www.Cheechsprivatestash.com for more info!