Tommy Chong, the Grammy Award winning stoner comic who made a career out of poking fun at Marijuana users, no longer considers the subject a laughing matter.
Now 74, Chong has become a major proponent of pot legalization, arguing that such a move would help the sluggish economy rebound through new employment opportunities and an increase in government revenue through taxing the product.
"Look at the situation we're in now," Chong told Philly.com. "Sequesters. Cuts. Everything cut across the board. Now, the government is tapped into the biggest cash crop in the world
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As for how much the production costs would be, Chong offered a typical comical solution.
"There's little manufacturing cost," Ching added. "You don't have to do anything except watch it grow and get a couple of hippies to cut it and then put it in a bag."
In the interview, Chong noted the legislative gains the marijuana-legalization movement has made in recent years across the country, with both Colorado and Washington legalizing the drug for recreational use
Additionally, there are 18 states, and the District of Columbia, that have legalized medical marijuana.
"Hemp itself is going to save the world," Chong added.
The Canadian-born Chong is internationally known for his 1970s, 1980s comic routine "Cheech and Chong," where he and fellow comedian Richard "Cheech" Marin played free-loving, counter culture hippies who shared a love of cannabis.
The stand-up routine led to a series of films, most notably the 1978 cult-classic "Up in Smoke."
Subsequent films included "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie" and "Still Smokin.'"
Chong's marijuana stance is apparently supported by the majority of Americans a recent Pew Research Center survey says.
According to the April 4 survey, 52 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana
. In comparison, just 41 percent of those polled by pew in 2010 supported legalizing pot.
In 1969, 84 percent of those polled opposed legalization.
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According to Whitehouse.gov, the federal government continues to oppose the substance because it "has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, [and] there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug under medical supervision."
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug in the United States, according to the government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
In 2011, 18.1 million people illegally used the drug in the U.S. In comparison, that same year 8 million people ages 12 or older used illicit drugs other than marijuana.
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