Cheech and Chong Company To Hire a California Lobbyist

June 20, 2024 · High Times

A company created by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong—the iconic comedy duo known as Cheech and Chong—filed to hire a lobbyist in order to get involved with the lawmaking process in Sacramento, California. 

Marin, 79, and Chong, 86, are moving their interests into California politics as it impacts businesses they own. CBS News reports that Cheech and Chong’s Global Holdings Company recently registered with the California Secretary of State.

The company filed with the state of California on June 1 to register with Secretary of State Shirley M. Weber to hire a lobbyist. Cheech and Chong’s Global Holdings Company CEO Jonathan Black said the move is both about laws that impact hemp-derived product laws as well as laws that impact the cannabis industry in the state.

“The reason why we hired a lobbyist is because there’s a bill—Assembly Bill 2223—that’s on the floor right now that regards intoxicating hemp products,” Black tells High Times in a phone call. “We’ve had conversations with the CCIA [California Cannabis Industry Association]” Black said, describing the burdens of tax revenue that impacts hemp and cannabis, in comparison to other states like Illinois. AB 2223 would bring hemp-derived products into California’s state compliance system alongside cannabis products. 

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and hemp-derived products, however, interest in active compounds like delta-8 led states to implement laws to either crack down on them or regulate them like cannabis in an age-gated system like you’d see for wine.

“Ultimately we’ll continue to move the cannabis market in California forward,” he said, saying that they’re seeking an amendment that would provide wins for both the hemp and cannabis industries.

“We hired a lobbyist, Kirk Hale from Aaron Reed & Associates, who’s a fantastic lobbyist doing great things for a long time to come,” Black says. “Right now if you look, there’s about 1,000 dispensary licenses in the state of California that are active but you have [around 200] paying taxes on time,” he says.

Cheech and Chong’s Cannabis sells all types of terpene-based products ranging from concentrates to pre-rolls, gummies, and vapes. And they also sell hemp smokables.

The Wild West days of Prop. 215 in California are over in the aftermath of adult-use cannabis. Today,  regulations and taxes are so burdensome they are forcing many cannabis businesses to close.

One factor is the battle for hemp-derived products. In 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 45, establishing a comprehensive regulatory framework for the manufacture and sale of hemp-derived products in the state, including smokable hemp as well as hemp-infused food and drink sales. As an emergency statute, the bill goes into effect immediately.

It allowed hemp-derived products like pre-rolls to thrive, as well as edibles and drinks, however dozens of states are in the process of regulating hemp or banning certain compounds from products. Assembly Bill 45 explicitly allows the sale of hemp-derived extracts that comply with testing and labeling standards.

While CBD products are freely found in stores, they are considered “adulterated” under existing California law, which is defined under the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law. What AB-45 did is provide clarity for the hemp industry—more importantly, reassuring hemp consumers that products are independently tested and labeled properly.

There are many other bills moving through Sacramento that impact cannabis and hemp businesses including the companies linked to Cheech and Chong.

Marketing research firms BDSA Analytics and Headset both report that Michigan cannabis businesses sold more products than California’s industry. While California’s cannabis industry sales revenue remains a few billion higher than Michigan’s, cheaper prices in Michigan led to more units being sold in recent years. And it shouldn’t be happening for a state as large as California.

Cheech and Chong’s Cannabis Company Forms

Cheech and Chong’s company rebranded back in 2021. Eighth Icon Holdings announced in a press release that it changed its name to Cheech and Chong’s Cannabis Company, effective immediately. Consolidating the name with the comedy duo’s iconic brand aligns with the company’s mission.

The company formerly known as Eighth Icon produces Tommy Chong’s Cannabis and Cheech’s Stash wholesale flower brands in California—with plans to continue that momentum. Being in operation for less than a year, the company recently redirected its website to Cheech And Chong’s Cannabis.

“Our team is prepared for the challenge and committed to representing Cheech and Chong’s cannabis across the United States and around the world. This name change allows for clear representation of what our company is executing,” Black said.

The company is also behind other various projects in past years such as Cheech and Chong’s Takeout, as well as Cheech and Chong’s Dispensoria—providing delivery experiences. Cheech and Chong’s Dispensoria was developed by Eight Icon last year, and Cheech and Chong’s Takeout was developed amid a sudden need for more delivery options during the pandemic.

By the end of the month, Cheech and Chong Global Holdings is expected to file more paperwork with the state showing how much money they have spent and on exactly what issues in order to follow through with the plan. (Full Story)

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