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Grumpy old stoners:” Cheech and Chong on their “official” drug policy

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Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/www.erikkabikphoto.com

Everyone’s favorite stoners, Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong, don’t smoke anymore, but if they did, they say they’d share.

Chong has just one (hypothetical) rule: “If you take my stash, make sure you replace it.”

“I’m very liberal,” he explained. “I tell my kids, if you’re going to do drugs, replace them.”

Still, the iconic druggie duo’s days of toking up went up in smoke years ago – officially speaking, at least.

“Officially, we don’t smoke, never have,” Chong said.

Cheech agreed: “Officially, that’s our position.”

The pair have been cracking stoner jokes for 40 years now, though their act has hardly been consistent thanks to their on-again/off-again relationship.

While many couples avoid labels in unstable relationships, Cheech and Chong seem to have worked out the differences that kept them apart for nearly two decades and are eager to make things official: They’re back together, have never been happier, and have a revised drug policy, too.

Cheech & Chong, reunited at Caesars.

Cheech & Chong, reunited at Caesars.

Chong, who spent time in prison after pleading guilty to drug paraphernalia distribution charges in 2003, tries to promote a pot policy that is both by the book and on the right side of the law.

Officially, of course.

“Our official position is that marijuana is a medicine and it should be taken only by people who need it,” he said.

“Do you need some?” Cheech asked, effectively lightening the mood with an infectious giggle. “I can get you a good deal.”

As the two joke back and forth it can be hard to know when they are, in fact, joking and when the ribbing has nothing to do with the act.

Though they’ve endured some mighty contentious times – they hardly spoke for nearly 20 years after experiencing a falling-out in the mid-1980s and only officially reunited last year – Cheech and Chong seem to have picked up right where they left off.

“We’re back to entertaining each other again,” Chong said. “I try to think of things to crack him up, and he’ll crack me up. The strength of ‘Cheech and Chong’ was that we didn’t need an audience because we had each other.”

The first couple of drug culture comedy was honored in Las Vegas in November during a roast that was part of the annual Comedy Festival at Caesars Palace.

Six months after being roasted, they’re back - “And now we’re being toasted,” Cheech chimed.

Their “Light Up America” tour will sparked up the Pearl Saturday evening.

Though time has mellowed 62-year-old Cheech and 70-year-old Chong, the older and wiser duo say their act is “smoother, longer and funnier,” than when they performed at Ceasars last fall.

In addition to their current North American tour, the two have several other projects on the go, both together and individually. They have announced another movie, have an animated film in the works and recently taped a live DVD.

Cheech – who has had a successful solo career doing voiceover work for Disney and appearing on the small screen first with Nash Bridges and more recently on Lost – credits “poverty and the will of God” as the incentives that persuaded him and Chong to return to their roots and familiar roles.

According to Chong, the forthcoming Cheech and Chong movie will involve a new take on an old classic: “Its working title is Grumpy Old Stoners,” Chong said, explaining, “It’s Up In Smoke 30 years later.”

He says the flick, which will start filming in the fall and is slotted for a summer 2010 release, will be a combination of old characters in new situations.

“We’ve got all these characters that were never featured before in our movies,” Chong said, “(So) this movie has a lot of new characters in different scenarios.

“It’s going to probably be the top-grossing movie of all time,” he predicted.

The two are reluctant to discuss retirement in absolutes.

“We don’t want to beat the horse to death,” Chong said before explaining that they’re sticking to a “One day, one-tour-at-a-time kind of approach.”

“As long as we’re having fun, we’ll do it,” Cheech offered.

Despite more than four decades of ups and downs, drugs and drug busts, the iconic duo don’t seem to have many regrets.

“I probably wouldn’t have been the second Star Trek movie,” Cheech said, “but that’s probably it.”

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Melissa Arseniuk

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