Monday, February 14, 2011
In 2003, Chong was targeted by two American investigations code-named Operation Pipe Dream and Operation Headhunter, which sought out businesses selling drug paraphernalia, mostly water pipes. He was charged for his part in financing and promoting Chong Glass/Nice Dreams, a company started by his son Paris. Chong agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute drug paraphernalia in exchange for non-prosecution of his wife, Shelby, and his son. While 54 of the 55 individuals charged as a result of the operations were sentenced to fines and home detentions, Chong was sentenced onSeptember 11, 2003, to 9 months in a federal prison, forfeiture of $103,000, and a year of probation.
While government officials denied that Chong was treated any differently from the other defendants, many felt that he was made an example of by the government. Soon afterwards, marijuana advocates started the Free Tommy Chong! movement that called for his release. Chong served his sentence from October 8, 2003 to July 7, 2004, and in December 2004 was to appear off-Broadway in a show entitled The Marijuana-Logues, a parody of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. His legal concerns, including that audiences were actually smoking marijuana in some of the shows early in its tour ultimately caused him to quit the show.
In 2006, Chong wrote a book about his experiences in jail and his interest in meditation, called The I Chong: Meditations From The Joint (ISBN 1-4169-1554-0)