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Drug Testing News

Feds Smoke Out Chong?



2/24/2003

Tommy Chong's Chong Glass makes a promise to its customers. All of its products--chiefly, handmade pipes that the Los Angeles Times once wrote "could double as a bong"--are, the company Website says, "for legal blend and tobacco use only."

Or maybe not.

Chong, once one-half of the high-flying (literally) comedy team, Cheech & Chong, saw his Gardena, California, factory and Pacific Palisades home raided Monday by federal drug agents and other authorities, Los Angeles TV station NBC4 reported.

The Chong sweep was said to be related to nationwide Drug Enforcement Agency-led crackdowns on businesses that trade, in what U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft (news - web sites) called Monday the "illegal drug paraphernalia industry."

The initiatives--dubbed, in the tradition of double-entendre-titled Cheech & Chong flicks, Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter--swept up 55 people from California to Florida, with most of the arrests coming in Pennsylvania.

Neither Tommy Chong, nor Chong Glass, was named in the indictment.

A message left on Chong Glass' answering machine ("Okay, damn, you just reached Chong Glass," its owner intones on the outgoing message) was not returned Monday.

A DEA official said search warrants were served on Chong's business and home. It was not immediately known what came of the raids.

Chong Glass, with its stock of handpipes and hammers and sidecars, is described in the comic's official bio as a family business providing "a unique collection of high-quality, original functional art and signature merchandise."

"When he is not at Chong Glass testing the merchandise," his Website notes, Chong, 64, is on the stand-up circuit twice a month with his new partner in gags, wife Shelby.

Chong's show-biz career started smoking in the 1970s when he and Cheech Marin played tie-dyed stoners in a series of pot-joke comedies, such as Up in Smoke.

The duo split in 1985. Marin went prime-time, playing Don Johnson's straight-shooting partner in Nash Bridges. Chong continued to bill himself as a hemp advocate and a "born-again doper," playing Hyde's stoner tie-dyed boss on That '70s Show.

Last month, Chong's daughter, actress Rae Dawn Chong (news), told E! Online that she has penned a script aimed at reuniting her father with Marin. Its title: Cheech & Chong Get Blunt.

The people indicted Monday, many of them owners of either real-world retail shops or cyber-space e-commerce sites, were charged with selling items that, the feds say, are "primarily intended or designed to be used in ingesting, inhaling or otherwise using controlled substances."

Translation: Bongs, crack pipes, roach clips, miniature spoons.

Those under indictment face a maximum three years in prison, and/or a $250,000 fine, per count, if convicted.