President Obama is the key to decriminalizing marijuana, Tommy Chong says
Minutes before the actor and comedian told a former advisor to the White House drug czar to "shut up," Chong said Obama has the power to move pot off the same list where other drugs like LSD and heroin reside (Schedule 1) to a less restrictive list (Schedule 2) where drugs like opium and morphine reside and which can be prescribed by doctors.
"All President Obama has to do is sign an executive order rescheduling marijuana from Schedule 1, which says it has no medical use whatsoever, to a Schedule 2, which would allow it to be sold by prescription only. Then we'd be all done," Chong said on the CNN show "In The Arena."
Paul Chabot, a former White House senior advisor to the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and founder of the Coalition for a Drug Free California, naturally had issues with the co-star of "Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke" as well as with Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who Thursday introduced HR 2306, a bill that would shift enforcement of marijuana laws to the states.
"It's very disappointing to have two grown adults pushing a marijuana agenda," Chabot said, adding, "Shame on Barney Frank and Ron Paul, a very big disappointment for American leadership."
Chabot, a Republican who unsuccessfully ran for California Assembly in 2010, continued: "We have woken up to the medical fraud marijuana problem that's skirted all around our nation. Times are changing. It will be back to community and family values."
And that was when Chong, who was imprisoned for 9 months for selling glass bongs, began to get angry.
CHONG: Melissa Ethridge, Melissa Ethridge suffered from cancer and she survived through the use of marijuana.
CHABOT: Got it.
CHONG: Shut up for a minute. Let me finish.
CHABOT: Very disappointing.
CHONG: It has medical use. That lie you just said where it had no medical use whatsoever, it's a lie.
Chabot isn't alone in believing that marijuana has no medical use. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith said his panel, which the Paul/Frank weed bill is required to venture through, would not even consider it because of several factors, including marijuana's lack of medical benefits.
"Marijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S.," Smith said on Thursday.
Candidate Obama in 2004 called the war on drugs "an utter failure," and although he said he did not believe marijuana should be legalized, he said the weed should be decriminalized.
[Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Chong served three years for selling bongs, the actor served 9 months.]
-- Tony Pierce
Photo: Comedian Tommy Chong arrives at the Marijuana Policy Projects 15th annual gala in Washington on Jan. 13, 2010. Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press