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."
Update: According to AP, on May 18, 2022, "The two sides agreed to dismiss the case. The legal filing did not mention any settlement." So, then much ado about nothing.