‘That ’70s Show’: 1 Character Disappeared for Selling Drug Paraphernalia In Real Life

Smoking pot on That ’70s Show isn’t uncommon because it adds to the authenticity of the era. Although it isn’t directly mentioned that the group of teenage friends is getting high when they meet in The Circle, it is heavily implied by the smoke in the room, squinted eyes, nonsensical laughter, and occasional mentions of munchies.

What is less common is drug use and sale by the show’s actors in real life. Although Hollywood has seen its share of actors being arrested (sometimes while filming!), it still comes as a surprise when actors disappear from shows, and fans find out it’s for drug-related reasons. 

Recounting ‘That 70s Show’

That ’70s Show storylines center around a group of six teenage friends as they journey through their last years of adolescence and head into adulthood. The main lead is Eric Foreman, who often references Star Wars throughout the series and is considered the group’s nerdy friend.

His neighbor, Donna Pinciotti, is his on-again-off-again girlfriend who is strong-willed and tough. Hyde is like a brother to Eric since his move to the Foreman’s basement after family hardships. He is typically witty and sarcastic.

Fez is a foreign exchange student that integrates into the circle of friends, but his past remains a mystery to fans with few looks into his life outside of the group. He is generally girl-crazy and desperate most of the time with an appreciation of Kelso and Jackie’s beauty.

The cast of That '70s Show huddled together with a psychedelic backdrop
The cast of That ’70s Show | Fox

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Jackie is the bossy, self-centered friend with an on-again-off-again relationship with Kelso. Kelso is a pretty boyfriend with no common sense or smarts.

A prominent element of the show is the character get-togethers around The Circle. The Circle consists of the camera pivoting between characters who display signs of marijuana use with smoky rooms and hilarious conversations. It isn’t limited to the teenage friends or Eric’s basement, although many are.

The sitcom caters to many viewers who are too young to have experienced the disco era. Nonetheless, producers make a tribute to the decade with celebrity cameos from the 1970s that many parents can recognize from their adolescent years. As the first representation of the 1970s, That ’70s Show is a good source for representing countercultural values of drugs and casual sex, the conflicting types of femininity and beliefs among women, and problematic racial attitudes in the 1970s.

Tommy Chong’s role on ‘That 70s Show’

Tommy Chong plays Leo on That ’70s Show. Leo is an old hippie stoner who owns a business called Fotohut.

Although he is a business owner, he does not have a good work ethic and typically puts play before responsibilities. He is presumably high all the time and is often confused about the conversations he is having, where he is, and life in general. 

He makes his debut as the hippie Hyde interviews with to work at the Fotohut in season two. Hyde gets the job by answering the simplest interview question, “You like photos, man?”

Leo goes on to appear in seasons two, three, four, seven, and eight. His brief disappearance from the show in seasons five and six are because he was arrested for selling drug paraphernalia in real life.

In season five of the show, the gang searches for Leo and finds a letter left by him and addressed to Hyde. Essentially, he says he left to “get home to my wife.” Funny scenes starring Leo that capture his stoner personality:

  • Leo advises Fez to “just do what I do, man. Take money from the register when the boss isn’t looking,” after firing him from the business he owns, Fotohut.
  • Leo tells Hyde to “join the club” when he says, “I got busted for possession.”
  • Leo asks Hyde, “Oh wow. Now we found each other. Hey, do you wanna be my father?” when they realize they both have family that split on them.
  • Leo tells Eric, “Beer is evil. You know why they call it beer?” When Eric says no asks why, Leo says, “I’m just curious, man.”

The arrest that led to his disappearance on the show 

Chong makes hilarious jokes about being stoned and commonly starring in popular movies and shows as a stoner like his role in That ’70s Show and Cheech & Chong. So, it didn’t surprise fans when it came out that he was involved with financing and promotion of his son’s business, Chong Glass//Nice Dreams, where customers could purchase bongs and water pipes.

What did surprise fans is the nine-month sentence in 2003 for conspiracy to distribute drug paraphernalia. Chong’s arrest was part of the U.S. Justice Department’s Operation Pipe Dreams investigation of Internet distribution of drug paraphernalia, to which Chong claims to have pleaded guilty to the charges to protect his son and his son’s company. 

Tommy Chong opens up about the charges and arrest in an interview with Joe Rogen. In response to Rogen’s statement about how outrageous and wrong the charges and arrest were, Chong says, “They were just showing off” when they arrested him.