What a meeting, man! - Albuquerque Journal

What a meeting, man!

Matthew Narvaiz, business reporter for the Journal, poses for a photo with Cheech and Chong on May 18, 2022. (Courtesy of Darren White)

Do you know that feeling of nervousness you get before you’re about to meet someone famous or important? That feeling that makes your heart beat fast, your face turn red and gives you the shakes?

That’s the feeling I had not long before I had a short sit-down interview with the famed comedy duo and current heads of the Cannabis States of America, Cheech and Chong.

And I’m positive that’s the same feeling some fans of the duo, who headed to PurLife in Rio Rancho last week, had when they finally got the chance to meet the two.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to meet the Cannabis States of America’s secretary of state – Snoop Dogg. Maybe in the future. But this story is about meeting Cheech and Chong, man, and all that came along with it.

Here’s some background on the event, held May 18, before I give you some buzzer quotes from the famed duo. PurLife, which is exclusively selling the duo’s cannabis products – Cheech & Chong Cannabis Co. – in New Mexico, was able to secure some meet-and-greets at some of its locations. One of those stops was in Rio Rancho.

Cheech and Chong’s media representatives had reached out to the Journal in April to see if we would like to sit down with the two for an interview. Of course, as the Journal’s resident cannabis reporter, I had to oblige!

I was in for a surprise.

I showed up to PurLife about 10 minutes before 5 p.m. – the time Cheech and Chong were meant to arrive at the dispensary and the time our interview was slated to start. But as I pulled up, hundreds of fans were lined up around the building in anticipation of meeting Cheech and Chong. I should have expected that.

I walked into the dispensary and mentioned my interview to employees of PurLife. The workers told me that my interview would have to wait at least 45 minutes so the two could greet fans, but I shouldn’t have expected the store employees to know the itinerary of Cheech and Chong. I was still able to interview the duo before their meet-and-greet started.

The two arrived about 20 minutes after 5 p.m.

Cheech and Chong jumped out of a blacked-out van and fans screamed like they just witnessed Kanye West make an appearance. The two walked into the dispensary and were escorted to a quiet space in the back. Shortly after, I was escorted back there, too.

Before we sat down, a Cheech and Chong representative told me I had 10 minutes – shortened from our originally scheduled 20 minute interview – before the two had to go outside and make their appearance.

As we sat down, Chong asked Cheech where the heck they were. But before Cheech had time to respond, Chong said, “Albuquerque!” in a tone of excitement. Shortly after, Chong said “Burque” to which I replied, “Yep, that’s what we call it.” (We were in Rio Rancho but I didn’t want to be the guy who pointed out that the two cities are, in fact, different.) Chong then mentioned how extremely stoned he was before we dived into the questions I had for the two.

Upon further examination of Chong’s eyes and mannerisms, I can confirm that he was pretty dang baked. I’ve been around enough stoners in my life to know if he was just playing up the part or if he had hot-boxed the van before the event.

My first question for the two was how and why they secured a deal with PurLife to sell their cannabis products in New Mexico.

“Yeah, money,” Chong replied.

“We heard there was a lot of money in New Mexico in the weed industry, so we’re here to take it,” Cheech said in a follow-up.

I then asked what changes the two have seen in the cannabis space leading up to now.

“The truth is, we’re too stoned to really think about it,” Chong said.

After a good laugh, I then asked a few other questions about what legalized cannabis means for states across the country, advice they have for newbies looking to enter the industry and how they knew they wanted to make a business out of their pot-smoking habits. Of course, the two kept to their comedic ways and answered those questions with a fistful of humor. I should have realized.

I took a picture with the two after our interview – snapped by none other than Darren White, the former Bernalillo County Sheriff – before the two went outside to greet their fans. I headed back to the newsroom and later in the evening I listened to one of Cheech and Chong’s first singles, “Santa Claus & His Old Lady,” which came out in 1971.

What an experience, man!

UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column. Reach Matthew at 505-823-3919, mnarvaiz@abqjournal.com

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