Sacha Baron Cohen's first famous character was a British stoner named Ali G. Part of Ali G's schtick was he smoked a lot of weed.
Da Ali G Show was a hit on HBO in 2003 and 2004. The faux talk show - Cohen punked politicians and ordinary citizens with outrageous stunts and interviews - also introduced two other soon-to-be-famous characters, Borat and Bruno.
When I was senior editor of High Times, we had the opportunity to shoot Cohen in Ali G hip-hop garb for the October 2003 issue. I wasn't there, but as you can see he posed with a handful of beautiful cannabis colas.
Asked by interviewer Dan Skye why he decided to appear on High Times, Cohen/Ali G confessed: "Cuz you iz de only mag dat pay in weed."
Skye recalls: "He was very nice and personable. Totally cooperative for what we were doing. He told me he didn't like pot - it gave him a headache. But he was totally down for legalization."
This all came to mind as I read Cohen was suing Massachusetts cultivator Solar Sustainable Cannabis, which grows for their dispensary, Solar Therapeutics, in Somerset, for using his Borat likeness and popular saying, "It's nice," in a 4/20 billboard.
"According to the docs, obtained by TMZ, Sacha claims Solar Therapeutics is pulling a fast one by using Borat on the ad - which stands next to an interstate - because he has no connection whatsoever to the company.
"In fact, Sacha says he doesn't even smoke weed - a major bummer to many Borat fans, we suspect - and would never join an ad campaign for pot. No offense to those who do indulge, we're sure.
"Sacha is going after the cannabis company for at least $9 million in damages... and he wants the court to block Solar from using his name, image and likeness to hawk its products."
Cohen has every right to protect his creation and image, but to ask for excessive damages from a small weed company is not cool, whether he smokes it or not. Eighteen years earlier when it suited his purpose, he posed with pot. Now that the Addidas are on the other foot, so to speak, Cohen can't take the joke, a'ight?