Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin are household names. Whether you smoke marijuana every day or have never touched the stuff, few people in the world haven’t heard of Cheech & Chong. The original pro-marijuana advocates, the Cheech & Chong brand is synonymous with cannabis culture.
Spending nearly five decades as the icon for the marijuana movement, Cheech & Chong have a long history performing standup comedy, releasing records, and making movies. So, it comes as no surprise to see their brand expand into the realm of cannabis video games with the release of Cheech & Chong’s Bud Farm by LDRLY Games on 4/20 this year.
Cannabis Tech reached out to Tommy Chong last week to talk about this latest endeavor, as well as his perspectives on cannabis and the coronavirus pandemic.
Video Games and Cannabis Post-Pandemic Winners
We asked Chong if he ever imagined a time when consuming cannabis and playing video games would be so socially acceptable. Laughing, he responded, “It’s funny how the world gets turned around. The pandemic is doing more than making people sick; it’s changing our habits. We’re not allowed to do what we did before.”
When people are encouraged to stay home, video games, cannabis, and other vice industries are on the rise. An article on Forbes about people’s quarantine behaviors stated, “People are consuming more alcohol, smoking weed, playing video games, eating a lot of junk food, binge-watching Netflix and adult films more than ever before.”
In fact, data recently released by GoldenCasinoNews, shows online gaming saw nearly a 75% week-over-week increase in March. Additionally, an article published in Business Insider stated that almost 5% of the stimulus money went toward video games. Likewise, reports coming out of the cannabis industry show similar gains – not just with the rush to buy as shelter-in-place orders were first announced, but again when stimulus checks started getting deposited. According to reports from Springbig, a cannabis loyalty platform, their data shows a 63 percent increase in cannabis sales on Wednesday, April 15th.
Development of Cheech & Chong’s Bud Farm – A “No-Brainer”
According to Chong, the partnership with LDRLY Games all started on a plane in Vancouver. Although LDRLY already had several successful cannabis games, they wanted to pay homage to the legendary comedic duo. Chong elaborated, “The coders, the ones who made the game, they all grew up with Cheech & Chong. So, my son got involved and really made it happen. It was a no-brainer for us.”
The free simulation-style game takes players through a hilarious series of episodes that feature the iconic Cheech & Chong characters, like Sister Mary Elephant, Sgt. Stadanko, and Wink Dinkerson. Players build up their businesses, earn buds, and collect virtual trading cards to advance to the next episode and unlock new characters.
“Everyone loves those characters; we’re everyone’s kid and everyone’s dad,” Chong mused, speaking about the cross-generational span their comedy reaches.
Perspectives on Progress
Chong has witnessed the ebb and flow of legalization arguments throughout the years, yet when asked what he feels is most surprising about cannabis legalization today, his answer comes from recent events. He said, “I liked the fact that it was deemed an essential business. They shut down gyms, bars, and everything, but let the dispensaries stay open.”
Although Chong agreed that the new essential designation was a big step towards federal legalization in the US, he hopes that taxation is reasonable. “I believe all marijuana use should be considered medical, and therefore, we should not be taxed to death, and [cannabis] should not be treated as a harmful substance like alcohol or cigarettes,” he explained.
Staying Busy and Healthy
Chong said, despite the quarantine, he’s staying busy working on a documentary with his daughter, as well as, Chong’s Bongs – a glass-art collection of bongs. He also mentioned that Cheech is also staying active with his Chicano Art Gallery in Riverside, California. But more than anything right now, Chong’s priorities are staying healthy and enjoying the break provided by the shelter-in-place orders.
“I’m enjoying the lockdown, my wife is locked in with me, and she gets bored, so she cooks these gourmet meals every night. So, it’s no longer a lockdown; it’s waiting for the next meal!” he laughed.