Cheech Marin touts state tool for California pot businesses


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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Comedian and legendary stoner Cheech Marin doesn't want your pot business to go up in smoke.

That's why he's in a new public service announcement publicizing a California Secretary of State website for budding marijuana entrepreneurs.

California on Friday began accepting applications from businesses that want to operate in the state's legal recreational marijuana industry next year. An online system will allow retailers, distributors and testing labs to seek state licenses, which are required to conduct business.

In the PSA, Marin sits behind a computer at the Secretary of State's office and urges a would-be cannabis business owner to register and obtain information through the state website cannabizfile.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla asked Marin to appear in the PSA after meeting him at a Los Angeles restaurant.

Marin agreed.

"It knocks off a few hours of the community service I have to do," he joked to the Sacramento Bee.

Marin is a longtime marijuana enthusiast. In the 1970s and 1980s, he and Tommy Chong, working as the duo Cheech and Chong, satirized and glorified stoner culture in hit albums and movies, including 1978's "Up in Smoke."

Although the two split up, they recently reunited and have a scheduled tour. Both also have kept up their interest in marijuana.

Marin sells "curated" marijuana through his business, Cheech's Private Stash (with the motto: "It will always be good") and has licensed the sale of "Cheech" waterpipes. He and Chong also have a website where fans can buy branded rolling papers, bongs and other paraphernalia.

Chong previously had a business selling waterpipes called Chong's Glass but it was raided by federal agents in 2003 during a crackdown. Chong pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute drug paraphernalia and was sentenced to nine months in federal prison. He was released in July 2004.

California is among 29 states where pot is legal, either for medical or recreational use.

The state projects it will collect $1 billion in new taxes from pot sales and other activity within several years

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