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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:48 am:   

Chong gets 9 months for selling bongs

Tommy Chong, who played one half of the dope-smoking duo in the Cheech and
Chong movies, asked for leniency from a judge Thursday but was sentenced to nine
months in prison for conspiring to sell drug paraphernalia.

Chong's attorneys argued for no jail time, saying the actor and comedian
would use his celebrity to become a role model against drugs and would dedicate
his life to public service.

The 65-year-old apologized to the court and his family, saying he "got
carried away" with his movie character.

He admitted once having "a drug problem with marijuana" but said he beat it
by redirecting his energy to salsa dancing.

"It's a Latin American dance that's awesome," Chong told U.S. District Judge
Arthur J. Schwab before the judge imposed the sentence, which included a
$20,000 fine.

Chong said he has been working with youth groups, teaching filmmaking and
speaking against drug use.

When they "saw that I was not the character that I played in the movies, they
were surprised. Some were disappointed," Chong said.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Houghton said Chong grew wealthy glamorizing
drug use and trivializing law enforcement in his films of the late 1970s and
early 1980s.

Houghton also said Chong used the movie persona to promote his catalog and
Internet business.

Chong admitted that his company, which operated as Chong Glass and employed
25 glass blowers, sold some 7,500 bongs and pipes until February 14, when
federal drug agents raided his California home and business. Authorities also
seized about a pound of marijuana.

Richard G. Hirsch, one of Chong's attorneys, urged Schwab not to punish the
actor for his films. "The government is asking you to blur the distinction
between reality and satire," he said.

Chong's attorneys said the actor already has been punished: The case cost him
a recurring role on the Fox sitcom "That '70s Show" and a planned reunion
movie with Cheech Marin, with whom he co-starred in comedies including "Up in
Smoke" and "Nice Dreams."

Along with the fine, Chong must forfeit more than $103,000. He will also be
on probation for a year after his release.

The business, though defunct, was placed on probation for three years and its
Internet domain name must be relinquished to federal authorities, along with
any remaining paraphernalia.

Chong was allowed to remain free until federal prison officials tell him in a
few weeks where to report to prison.

He pleaded guilty May 13 to conspiring to sell drug paraphernalia and pleaded
guilty on behalf of his business.

The plea came after federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents bought his
paraphernalia and had the items shipped to an undercover business in Beaver
Falls, northwest of Pittsburgh.

Agents also confiscated his company's wares during raids of "head shops" in
several states and confiscated "thousands of marijuana bongs and pipes" in a
raid of his Gardena, California, business
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Legal in Alaska
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

Dude. That's just so wrong, man.

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Legal in Alaska
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

Dude. That's just so wrong, man.

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Snock
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 02:23 pm:   

I guess I was kind of surprised while reading this article to find out that selling pipes and papers and such was actually illegal in the U.S.

In Canada, every small town has it's local head shop with inventory of pipes, bongs, dope growing literature, and head comix. It’s been that way now for about 10 years… since the ban on drug related literature was lifted. Hydroponic gardening supply places are doing a cracking business as well... although for the most part, they are careful not to openly link themselves with drug culture.

Is it not the same in the U.S.? Can you buy a copy of High Times off the newsstand? Has Ed Rosenthal been arrested recently? Or are they just making an ’example’ of Mr Chong.

Chong employed 25 glassblowers? Sounds like a nice product. It’s a shame.
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 03:14 pm:   

Snock,

I don't know much about the laws in California, but I'm pretty sure you can buy High Times. How long that state of affairs will last, I have no idea. Ashcroft seems to delight in targeting naked statues and old hippies in his war against terrorism.

You can buy pipes in Washington state, so it must be a state-to-state thing.

I'm sure Chong was an example.
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Nick Mamatas
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 06:10 pm:   

Ed Rosenthal was arrested last year. Legal trouble are ongoing for him.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 07:45 pm:   

It is NOT a state to state thing. This was a federal sting, co-ordinated out of the Attorney General's office. Chong was just one of many people who were targeting in this "Head Shop" bust. Federal paraphernalia laws, (usually not enforced) were used to convict, or illicit plea-bargains.

The current administration has a habit of sending in federal troops to arrest and seize the proprietors and goods of Liscenced/legal in California -- Medical marajana clubs... they do this without any co-operation from local authorities (who have better things to spend their time and money on), and then change the people in federal court. The Attorney generals office has taken the position that federal law supersedes state law, and that he has the right and duty to spend our federal tax dollars arresting people who supply piddling amounts of pot to glaucoma patients, among others.

This from a "pro-states-rights" administration.

I'm glad that there isn't a terrorism problem or anything to worry about.

-jl
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Lucius
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 08:30 pm:   

Hmm, well, okay. Guess I better stock up on paraphenalia. :-)
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Anon [a mouse]
Posted on Friday, September 12, 2003 - 11:05 pm:   

"The business, though defunct, was placed on probation for three years and its
Internet domain name must be relinquished to federal authorities, along with
any remaining paraphernalia."

Dude, where's my dot-com?
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Minz
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 10:50 am:   

Unless the laws have changed further, I'm pretty certain it's just the water pipes/bongs that are illegal. Pipes and papers can and are used for tobacco products (not that I've ever used them for such), and therefore not illegal. I was lucky enough to buy the second last glass Graphics bong (Graphics was an operation in Milwaukee that closed back back around 1990?--the exact year is a bit fuzzy, hmmmm--as a result of the state of WI making it illegal to make or sell water pipes)

And we don't have censership on printed products yet . . . other than that BS that Ashcroft pulled after 9/11, where the feds could come into a bookstore or library, force an employee to provide information on people who bought/borrowed certain "terrorist" material, and then the employee would not even be allowed to tell their bosses the feds were checking up on them. I remember signing the petitions against this particularly onerous bit of legal maneuvering . . . was this shot down?

Either way, many towns still have head shops, who sell pipes, papers and High Times.
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Jeremy Lassen
Posted on Saturday, September 13, 2003 - 09:24 pm:   

The “PATRIOT Act” made the seizure of public library records and bookstore purchases legal, and puts a gag order on any organization that is forced to turn over these records. The Patriot Act is the law of the land, and is in effect.

There is a bill in House of Representatives right now called "The Freedom To Read Act", that restores privacy rights to customers of libraries and bookstores. Details of the bill are at http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/2003_cr/hr1157.html

This bill most likely will not pass unless Members of the House are encouraged to vote for it. I urge all of you to call, fax, or email your elected representative (http://www.house.gov/writerep/)in the house, and demand that this act be passed.

Currently, Ashcroft is touring the country trying to drum up support for an even bigger assault on our civil liberties... The “VICTORY Act” will be submitted to congress shortly. It wouldn't hurt to contact your reps and express your outrage about this, also. <gets>.

-jl
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Minz
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 01:05 pm:   

Here's the latest from Slate on the Patriot Act:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2087984/
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Snock
Posted on Sunday, September 14, 2003 - 10:49 pm:   

Then there's the Dutch...

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/09/12/1063341769710.html
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Michael Cisco
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 02:35 am:   

He's also vowed to stamp out pornography ... you know, that stuff that no one knows what it is, and could be construed to include "topless" statues of justice such as the ones the made him go all watery in the knees at the opening of his loathsome tenure at the department - or, for that matter, actual female anatomy perhaps? Mastectomies for all? Could make the formula lobby happy ...
Yes, it's good to know the stern-faced songbird at the reins has his priorities in order.
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Lucius
Posted on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 - 05:29 am:   

Mike,

Ashcroft is right out of fucking Gilbert and Sullivan.

I know why Ashcroft covered that statue -- it was getting to him, man. He was drreaming about it, wanting it. It was in his head. He was thinking about maybe asking it out...

This guy's seriously Biblically insane. He lost a race to a dead man and has thus been liberated from convention, free to act out his madness. ..as literature, you gotta love him. Otherwise...
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Keith Ferrell
Posted on Saturday, September 27, 2003 - 06:16 am:   

Hey Lucius --

Just lucky for Chong, one supposes, that he got his plea worked out before Ashcroft & Co. decided that pleas of any sort are antithetical to the Republic.

Small favors...

all best as ever,

Keith

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