Tommy Chong, of Cheech and Chong fame is going to federal prison for 9 months for selling bongs over the Internet.
The government used his public persona against him at the sentacing:
…Chong had made a career of glamorizing pot-smoking and capitalized on his status in making personal appearances at head shops across the United States, where he promoted his line of bongs and pipes with his picture on them.
In addition, he advertised the paraphernalia on his company’s Web site and on his personal Web site, tommychong.com. […] Chong “used his public image to promote this crime” and marketed his products to children.
The crime, such that it is, is selling drug paraphernalia not drugs themselves. One of the ways the the government gets these kinds of guilty pleas it to make the prospect of going to trial so completely unpalatable that the defendant is practically forced to enter a guilty plea. I think in this case had Chong fought the original charges he would have been tried on a charge that had strict sentencing guidelines of 10+ years.
The bongs that were illegally sold over the Internet are legal for sale in most states in stores. Crossing state lines invokes the federal laws against bongs.
With all the trouble in world; putting 65 year old pot heads in federal prison seems sort of pointless…