Could there really be any doubt that he inhaled? It's no mystery to anyone who grew up watching Scooby-Doo that Shaggy was a stoner — no matter how much Hanna-Barbera may deny it.

Consider the evidence:

The disheveled, goateed member of the youth sleuths constantly had the midnight munchies ("Scooby snacks," anyone?), scarfing down six-foot subs like finger sandwiches.

He talked to a dog — who talked back.

He blissfully inhaled smoke wafting from open doorways, then literally floated toward the source (OK, it was smoke from cooking).

And how many non-stoners travel around in vans with psychedelic paint jobs?

"In hindsight, you look back and yes, there are certainly some very funny things about the cartoon," said Matthew Lillard, who plays Norville "Shaggy" Rogers in the first live-action version of the classic Saturday morning staple, opening Friday.

Also starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (Daphne), Freddie Prinze Jr. (Fred), Linda Cardellini (Velma) and a computer-generated great dane, the film tries its best to acknowledge Shaggy's possible drug consumption without confirming it.

But does it go too far for the young children who comprise its primary audience?

In one of three distinct marijuana jokes, smoke teems from the locked Mystery Machine van as reggae music blasts.

But that's simply because Shaggy and Scooby are barbecuing inside.

When a friendly female introduces herself as Mary Jane, Shaggy gushes, "Like, that is my favorite name!"

And when a demon unleashes the same green breath on Shaggy that proved nearly toxic to the rest of the gang, Mr. Shagadelic simply inhales and smiles.

"I don't think it goes too far," said Lillard, 32, best known for his roles in 1996's Scream and last year's 13 Ghosts.

"In fact, I wanted to go darker and higher over the kids' heads more times. But the thing is, it's not a movie about some random dog and his four friends.

"It's Scooby-Doo. So you have a responsibility to the family audience to not push too many buttons."

The Michigan-born, L.A.-bred actor bore no trace of a goatee as he spoke to the New York Post in a trailer on the Warner Bros. studio lot in L.A. But he did slip in and out of the hoarse Shaggy voice that required him to scream profusely before being summoned during the shoot.

(Countdown host Casey Kasem voiced the big dog's scaredy-cat sidekick on TV.)

"I'll still go on record saying I don't know if Shaggy is a stoner," Lillard said. "The creators of the cartoon continually deny it. So, in the longstanding tradition of Hanna-Barbera, I'll deny it also."

Another ganja gag was edited out of the movie.

A sign on a table read "Pot $5." Then the camera slowly panned right to show a clay pot for sale.

Lillard claims the joke was cut because the movie was too long. But producer Charles Roven said the film was starting to go too far to pot for a PG rating.

"As much as we wanted to appeal to all of the innuendo and subculture of what Scooby-Doo was, the Cartoon Network is where the show plays, and young kids from five on up are going to want to go," Roven said.

Asked about his personal familiarity with marijuana, Lillard — who studied at Manhattan's Circle in the Square Theater 10 years ago — giggled and joked, "I'll just keep giggling, bro."

He then added, "I've never smoked pot, really. I've tried it, but it was never really my gig.

"But if Scooby doesn't do well, maybe I'll start selling it," he quipped.

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