Brad McIntosh made the trip from Minnesota to Kelowna this week to celebrate pot history in Canada.
And he had the added bonus of meeting his comedic hero Tommy Chong, who visited Kelowna on Friday to attend a meet and greet public reception hosted by Quick Grow and Diablo Nutrients.
“I am 64 years old and I never thought I would see the day when this would happen,” said McIntosh, referring to Canada being the second country to legalize marijuana, following in the footsteps of Uruguay.
“People I know back home in St. Cloud who smoke marijuana think it is really cool to see what Canada has done.
“Some of the old negative stigmas about pot still exist here I noticed since I arrived in Canada on Monday, but pot will put a smile on anyone’s face no matter who you are.”
As for Chong, he also had a big smile on his face, wanting to join in the celebration of cannabis legalization in Canada.
“It makes me feel good about my country, proud to be a Canadian,” Chong said. “We are the first among the western countries to come to our senses.”
Chong, who rose to fame in the 1970s and ’80s with his comedy partner Cheech Marin writing hit albums and movies about the marijuana culture, jokingly said he is responsible for cannabis being legalized here.
|Fans of Tommy Chong toke up prior to the start of his public appearance in Kelowna on Friday. Photo: Barry Gerding/Black Press
He is fond of Kelowna as well, having first visited the Okanagan back in the 1950s. “It looks different today than when I first came here, but then again everything looks different now that weed is legalized.”
Chong said the medicinal values of cannabis can now be better researched with legalization, something he understands the value of from his own personal bouts with cancer and how he feels that aided his recovery.
“I’m not saying that marijuana cured my cancer, but it did affect my state of mind. Your mind controls your body. When you mind is full of stress, that affects your body. When marijuana relieves that stress, it allows the body to do its work and it helps you heel.”
Chong maintains there is no downside to cannabis use, citing the smiles he sees on the faces of people he meets in marijuana dispensaries to drug addicts who often find marijuana an alleviating agent for heroin and opiate addictions.
He does not feel pot use is a gateway to harder drugs, saying you can’t die from an overdose—“believe me I have tried enough times”—and just puts people in a better mindset in life.
“When I was in jail, I had to take a drug education course and I loved it. I learned all about drugs. I learned that alcohol addiction kills more people than anything else and it’s legal. Now that dope is legal, maybe it will replace the need for many people to drink alcohol and the world can become a more peaceful place.”
Chong added his Kelowna appearance is a reflection if a renewed interest in him since cannabis became legal in Canada, being asked to appear on television shows to articulate his views on marijuana.
“I am in big-time demand again all over, and it is fun. There is nothing comedians live more than an audience. We would do our act in front of a dog if no one else was around. But I love meeting people and to be among those here in Canada to see the intelligence behind this beautiful plant,” he said.