Celebrities and Colorado: The next step in the mainstreaming of marijuana?

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Photo: Tommy Chong
Tommy Chong.

Photo: Tommy ChongIn 2003, Tommy Chong, of the Cheech & Chong comedy duo, was swept up in a massive federal investigation called Operation Pipe Dreams. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration burst through the door of Chong’s California home with their weapons drawn. He was dubbed the “Pope of Pot” because his "Chong Bongs" for smoking marijuana were shipped across state lines to undercover federal agents.

Chong was sentenced to nine months in federal prison.

That was then.

Now, with a book to his name about his time behind bars and fresh off a stint on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” Chong is coming to Colorado. It's part of a tour to promote a line of marijuana called "Chong Star."

Celebrities hawking pot, endorsing its legalization, or simply saying they smoke it is more evidence of what Ricardo Baca calls the “normalization” of marijuana culture. Baca is the editor of The Denver Post’s “Cannabist.”

One part of the picture is how celebrities -- or their families -- are putting their famous names on products.

In another example, the family of Bob Marley has reached an agreement with an equity firm in Seattle to create Marley Natural, “a premium cannabis brand rooted in the life and legacy” of the reggae star who died in 1981, NBC’s "Today" recently reported. The products include pot-infused creams, vaporizers, and strains of “heirloom Jamaican cannabis,” according to the talk show.

The list of celebrities somehow associating their names with pot seems to be growing. Whoopi Goldberg is writing a sporadic column for The Cannabist. And actor Seth Rogen last week used Twitter to invite Coloradans to come and “smoke weed” with him during a Denver screening of “The Interview,” his latest movie.

However, the Denver Film Society told CPR News reporter Ben Markus that the screening at the SIE FilmCenter was canceled. Markus and Rogen exchanged a series of tweets during the aftermath in which Rogen left the door open for a screening to take place elsewhere. When Markus inquired where that would be, Rogen tweeted, “You'll see..”

If the event is invite-only, it could be legal under the law.