Cheech Marin mixes laughter with wisdom at Contra Costa College event

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by Mike Kinney

During a highly-anticipated, free event at Contra Costa College’s Knox Performing Arts Center on Thursday, Cheech Marin discussed his comedic career, the evolution of marijuana (which he helped popularize as part of the Cheech and Chong comedy duo), his political activism and his love and support for Chicano art and artists, among other topics.

And, naturally, Marin delivered plenty of laughs during his discussion with award winning writer and director Rick Najera as part of a Latino Thought Makers event.

It was Marin’s first visit to the Richmond area, and he didn’t fail to find fun ways to recount his upbringing and American culture in general. His impact on the culture of marijuana, once illegal for recreational use in California, was hilariously juxtaposed with the fact his father was a veteran Los Angeles Police Department officer.

“[He was with LAPD] for 30 years. All my uncles were LAPD. Then they had me,” Marin said.

After voters legalized recreational marijuana in California, Marin recounted receiving a call from the Secretary of State who asked if he could appear in a video to teach people how to register. Marin laughed at the idea he’d go from one of the world’s most famous stoners to a legal expert. “Anything can happen,” he said.

Prior to the event, we caught up with Marin backstage to ask a few questions about his visit to the local area. Marin told us he’d lived in San Francisco for seven years and always enjoys returning to the Bay Area, but had never been to Richmond.

“I got out of the car and thought, it’s freezing,” Marin said about the city. “But I’m sure the people are warm.”

We asked him if he had advice for local young people who want to become successful in life. As is his M.O., he responded first with humor, followed by a salient answer.

“Keep your hands on the steering wheel, don’t make any sudden moves. That will really affect your future,” he said.

Then he added, “Education is always the first thing I emphasize. Without an education — a lot of education — it’s harder to advance.”

The Latino Thought Makers event was co-sponsored by the Contra Costa College Foundation and Chevron. It is a nationally recognized interview series hosted and created by Najera and showcases the successes and career paths of influential Latino and Latina role models.

To learn more about Cheech Marin’s life and career, visit his biography.com write-up.

The video below provides the full conversation at CCC:

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