Jan 4, 2014 11:37 PM by Tony Spehar - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tommy Chong, famous member of the "Cheech and Chong" comedy duo and legend in the marijuana community, visited Pueblo on Saturday to celebrate the beginning of retail pot sales in Colorado.
Chong visited Marisol Therapeutics, one of Pueblo's pot stores, and was greeted by hundreds of fans who braved the cold and snow for a chance to meet him.
"To see Tommy Chong man, childhood memories of Cheech and Chong, I grew up with it, my aunts and uncles love him, my family loves him," explained Jason Bruhn, of Colorado Springs. "I had to be here to at least get a picture."
While some stood in line to meet Chong, others stood in line inside the store to buy marijuana. Store owner Michael Stetler said business has been booming ever since sales began on New Year's Day, he's stopped trying to estimate how much he's sold.
"I haven't even had time to do that, been so busy, barely had time to sleep," Stetler described.
Things only got busier on Saturday as "marijuana royalty" visited.
"Just the beginning and it's no wonder that it starts here in Colorado, because so many good things come out of Colorado," Tommy Chong said of the implementation of Amendment 64. "That historical first joint that Tommy Chong smoked was lit and I haven't come down since."
Chong, who made a career out of being on the wrong side of marijuana laws, said he was excited to be able to buy and smoke pot legally. For some time he's been an activist for legalization and not just for recreational purposes. Chong claims marijuana oil helped him beat prostate cancer.
"Basically kicked the disease, I don't have cancer anymore, at least in the amount where it's dangerous," he explained. "This day really validates what I believe in and what I always believed in, that marijuana is not only a happy, healthy plant for recreation, but it's a serious medical plant that we need."
But in the days since recreational pot sales started there has been criticism. Ben Cort, who works at the University of Colorado Drug Rehab Program, told NBC News that he had serious concerns about the impact legalization could have and that products were being marketed in a way that appeals to young people.
"It's awful, it's foolish," Cort said. "The experiment that we're talking about is happening in my home state where my three kids go to public school."
Believe it or not Tommy Chong, the former marijuana rebel, also pushed for people to be responsible with recreational pot during his time in Pueblo.
"I tell people to smoke carefully," said Chong.