From The Washington Post:
In an unprecedented late-term clemency push, President Obama has commuted the sentences of 673 offenders and pardoned 70 more. Now Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame, hopes to be one of them.
Chong, who rose to prominence with Cheech Marin in the 1970s with their joint stand-up routines and stoner buddy comedy films, spent nine months in federal prison in the early 2000s for selling bongs over the internet. Last month, he started a White House petition encouraging the president to pardon him. To date, it’s received over 13,000 signatures, and needs more than 80,000 more by Sept. 25 to ensure a White House response.
Chong’s arrest and subsequent conviction were part of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s push codenamed “Operation Pipe Dreams,” an effort to crack down on the distribution of drug paraphernalia like glass pipes and bongs.
One of the U.S. attorneys involved in the case, Mary McKeen Houghton, said at the time that Chong was selected for prosecution partly because he ”used his public image to promote this crime.” Chong and his lawyers maintained that authorities simply wanted to make a high-profile example out of him.
Chong didn’t fight the charges, instead pleading guilty in a deal to ensure that his wife and son, who were also involved in the business, wouldn’t face prosecution.
A lot has changed in the marijuana policy landscape since 2003. The drug is fully legal for recreational use in four states plus the District of Columbia. Five more states are considering whether to follow suit this November. Chong told the Hollywood Reporter he wants to get back into the bong-selling business, but his felony paraphernalia …