Archive for the ‘marijuana, NORML, hemp’ Category

Willie Nelson to receive first annual Willie Nelson Award, at Emerald Cup (Sunday, Dec. 16)

Friday, November 30th, 2018

As a longtime cannabis activist, Nelson has been an advocate for both the consumption and legalization of marijuana and is the creator of his own recreational cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve. Nelson, a Texas native with a long and well-known career as a singer, songwriter, author, poet and actor, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. The Emerald Cup will also honor Nelson by renaming the annual award to the Willie Nelson Award for future honorees.

Willie will be honored as the recipient of an award during our Award Ceremony taking place on Sunday, December 16, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The 2018 Emerald Cup will mark Nelson’s first-ever appearance at a large-scale cannabis event.
by:  Estephany Gonzalez

At this point, the Emerald Cup needs little introduction. Over the past 15 years, the phenomenon has flourished into a booming cannabis event commemorating community culture beyond growing and cultivating plants.

Aside from bringing together farmers and out-of-town cannabis enthusiasts each year, the Emerald Cup also brings big-name music acts to town that get better each year. Last year, Grammy award-winning band Portugal. The Man performed alongside a list of acts, including BottleRock favorites Bob Moses and Trip-hop music producer Gramatik.

With an ever-growing number of daily activities, the 2018 Emerald Cup features a long list of speakers, vendors and most impressively an appearance by country music legend Willie Nelson, who founded a recreational cannabis company named Willie’s Reserve and is set to receive an award for his work within the cannabis industry.

Among the plethora of live music over the course of two days, this year’s acts include diverse musical genres appealing to a variety of different musical tastes.

On Saturday, guests can catch Manhattan folk-punks Gogol Bordello, with upbeat energetic songs like “My Companjera” off 2010’s “Trans-Continental Hustle” and “Mishto” from the 2005 album “Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike.” Or, if smooth hip-hop tunes are more your speed, Jurassic 5 and Ozomatli co-founder Chali 2na will also be performing.

Sunday night may appeal to electronic music fans with acts like Big Gigantic and Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9) whom are bound to start a dance party but also offers something for the Americana crowd via songstress Margo Price, with country tunes such as “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” about drinking whisky like it’s water.

Other notable acts to catch include Protoje, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Antibalas and Lyrics Born. Make sure to log on to the Emerald Cup website for the full musical lineup and an update on set times.

Tip: “Mallrats,” “Chasing Amy” and “Dogma” film fans should make sure to pick up tickets for Saturday because Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes are set for a Jay and Silent Bob comedy performance.

Details: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 15 -16, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 1350 Bennett Valley Road, Santa Rosa. $80-$499.

Willie Nelson the Most Important Marijuana User

Thursday, November 15th, 2018
by:  Chris Roberts

“Hey hey, my my” is a Neil Young song, but by all indications, it is Willie Nelson who will never die.

Nelson will turn 86 years old in April, but he has years ago eased into a sort of timelessness. The Texas-living godfather of outlaw country still tours constantly, still finds time to engage in politics, and still smokes copious amounts of cannabis. The sun rises, the sun sets, and the Willie Nelson tour bus heads to the next town, a trail of terpene-scented smoke in its wake.

He is a country and popular music icon–he’s been recording and touring since the 1950s, but Willie Nelson is also a very real and very effective positive role model for marijuana use. Here is an enormously successful celebrity, from a not very progressive state, in what should be the twilight of his years, who still looks and sounds pretty good and appears to be in reasonably good health, who smokes weed constantly.

This is no accident. At least some of this longevity he attributes directly marijuana. (Since Nelson credits weed for helping him quit smoking cigarettes, even the most skeptical pro-prohibition doctor may find it hard to dispute that). Willie Nelson is a strong argument that all the Reefer Madness tropes that survive in our society are completely untrue. When (not if, friends, but when) Texas legalizes marijuana and elects a progressive to statewide office, maybe on the same day, Willie Nelson will have played a key role.

And, yes, fine, he is a stoner icon. Willie Nelson smokes weed just about everywhere and with everyone. He has out-smoked Snoop Dogg and apparently got stoned on the roof of the White House. Look: Willie Nelson might not exist without marijuana. And without Willie Nelson, marijuana culture would be very different.

This is all to say that when Willie Nelson shows up at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California on Sunday, Dec. 16, to receive an “honorary award” at the Emerald Cup, it will be only right, fitting and proper. And when all future honorees at the Emerald Cup receive an award, they will be handed the rechristened “Willie Nelson Award.” That, too, feels appropriate.

“We have a great deal of respect and admiration for Willie, who is graciously allowing the cup to honor future individuals with an award that will remain in his name,” said longtime Emerald Triangle cannabis cultivator and icon Tim Blake, who founded the Emerald Cup with some friends 15 years ago and has built it into arguably the biggest and most prestigious marijuana-awards show/product exposition on the growing marijuana-show circuit. “An unwavering ability to stand true in his beliefs and refusal to accept society’s rigid set of rules are only part of what makes Willie the perfect individual to be recognized as a hero to the cannabis world.”

This also marks a transition for the Emerald Cup’s award. Past honorees have generally come strictly from the marijuana world, like hemp advocate Jack Herer or medical-marijuana pioneer Dennis Peron. Skeptics or rude cynics might sniff and wonder if the addition of Willie to these ranks doesn’t represent a bend towards commercialism, as he has lent his image and acumen to two recreational marijuana brands. Maybe? The point is that marijuana legalization is an easier sell in red states, and some of the credit is due to Willie Nelson.

TELL US, are you a Willie Nelson fan?

Willie Nelson to be honored by The Emerald Cup

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

willie nelson cannabis marijuana
by: Johnny Green

The Emerald Cup (the “Cup”) one of the cannabis industry’s premier culture and awards events, announced today that Willie Nelson will be honored as the recipient of an honorary award at the 15th annual cannabis celebration. The award will be given during a ceremony taking place on December 16 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif. The 2018 Emerald Cup will mark Nelson’s first-ever appearance at a large-scale cannabis event.

Nelson, a relevant and progressive musical and cultural force with a six-decade career and over 200 albums, is the creative genius behind the historic recordings of Crazy, Red Headed Stranger, and Stardust. As a longtime cannabis activist, he has been an advocate for both the consumption and legalization of marijuana and is the creator of his own recreational cannabis companies, Willie’s Reserve and Willie’s Remedy. The Emerald Cup will also honor Nelson by renaming the annual award to the Willie Nelson Award for future honorees.

In recent years, he has delivered more than a dozen new album releases, released a Top 10 New York Times’ bestsellers book, again headlined Farm Aid, an event he co-founded in 1985, received his fifth degree black belt in Gong Kwon Yu Sul and headlined the annual Luck Reunion food and music festival at his ranch in Luck, TX during SXSW. Nelson, a Texas native with a long and well-known career as a singer, songwriter, author, poet and actor, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2015, the Library of Congress honored him with their Gershwin Prize for Popular Song for his contributions to popular music—making him the first-ever country artist to receive the distinguished award.

“We have a great deal of respect and admiration for Willie, who is graciously allowing the Cup to honor future individuals with an award that will remain in his name,” said Tim Blake, Founder and Producer of the Emerald Cup. “An unwavering ability to stand true in his beliefs and refusal to accept society’s rigid set of rules are only part of what makes Willie the perfect individual to be recognized as a hero to the cannabis world.”

Past honorees of the award include Pebbles Trippet, Eddy Lepp, Valarie Corral, Jack Herer, Ed Rosenthal, Tony Serra, Dennis Peron, Debby Goldsberry, Martin Lee, Mikki Norris, Chris Conrad, Fred Garner, Dale Geringer and Steph Sherer.

The Emerald Cup has grown into one of the largest, most influential cannabis events of the year and features a highly-curated experience for cannabis enthusiasts from around the world. Beyond its headlining musical acts, this year’s lineup features a variety of presentations from industry experts, artists and educators. Attendees will also have access to an array of exhibitors and retailers offering food, products and entertainment. Additional musical acts and artists will be announced over the coming weeks.

The annual cannabis celebration, taking place on December 15 through 16, will also continue its careful and elaborate judging process, which spans across multiple categories including flowers, concentrates, edibles, CO2 cartridges, topicals and a range of CBD categories. The contest intake dates run from October 15 to November 18, 2018.

Tickets are available for purchase through the Emerald Cup website, as well as ticket retailer Eventbrite. Weekend passes start at $120 and attendees must be over the age of 21. This year’s event will be a celebration of the new ways of thinking and living within cannabis culture.

The 15th Annual Emerald Cup
Dates: Saturday, December 15, 2018 – Sunday December 16, 2018
Time: Doors open at 10 a.m. PST
Venue: Sonoma County Fairgrounds
Address: 1350 Bennett Valley Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Admission: Varies // Weekend Pass Starts at $120
Age restrictions: 21+

Purchase Links: 
General Admission

VIP Emerald Passes & Travel Packages

Emerald Cup – Website
Emerald Cup – Facebook
Emerald Cup – Twitter
Emerald Cup – Instagram

About The Emerald Cup
The Emerald Cup was created in 2003 to advance the concept of sustainable and organic cultivation through competition between the finest sun-grown organic cannabis. Its reputation is firmly solidified as the largest, most respected, organic, outdoor, medicinal cannabis competition in the world. The Emerald Cup prides itself in bringing together experts and educators in the cannabis field to our fellow farmers, patients, and patrons each year. It is a community celebration that has grown to become a global movement honoring the year’s finest, organic, sun-grown, medicinal cannabis harvest.

Willie’s Remedy

Saturday, September 15th, 2018

“It’s two of my favorites, together in the perfect combination,” said Nelson in a statement. “Like coffee, cannabis is a plant that works for me.”

“It’s two of my favorites, together in the perfect combination,” said Nelson in a statement. “Like coffee, cannabis is a plant that works for me.”

Second chances, Ethan Hawke and Willie Nelson

Thursday, September 6th, 2018

Ethan Hawke tells Jimmy Fallon about his chance to smoke a joint with Willie Nelson.

Willie Nelson on the Cover of the Rolling Stone (again) (August 2014)

Monday, August 6th, 2018

Rolling Stone

Willie Nelson’s new CBD Infused Coffee, “Willie’s Remedy”

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Willie Nelson to launch new line of cannabis products, starting with coffee.
by: Tiney Ricciardi

Country music legend Willie Nelson got into the cannabis business in 2015 with a proprietary strain of marijuana. Now, Texas’ favorite stoner is expanding his brand to include several CBD products.

Monday, Nelson announced Willie’s Remedy, a line that includes several items rich in cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a derivative of hemp, and unlike the tetrahydrocannabinol compound found in marijuana, it won’t get it you high. CBD has, however, been lauded for its health benefits.

Willie’s Remedy will debut with a CBD-infused coffee, which is expected to be available in Colorado in September. According to a statement, the whole beans include CBD sourced from organically grown, American hemp. Drinkers get 5 milligrams of CBD in each 8-ounce cup of coffee.

“It’s two of my favorites, together in the perfect combination,” said Nelson in a statement. “Like coffee, cannabis is a plant that works for me.”

Willie’s Remedy is a counterpart to Willie’s Reserve, a strain of marijuana the singer launched in 2015. Both are owned by GCH, Inc., a Nelson-founded company that also recently partnered with New Belgium Brewing Co. to promote a beer called The Hemporer, which is made with hemp hearts. (P.S. It smells just like weed.) $1 from every beer sold supports the Hemp 4 Victory campaign, which aims to reform regulation to include industrial hemp as a leading agricultural crop and dismantle the taboo surrounding it.

Nelson’s wife, Annie D’Angelo, also has a proprietary line of THC edibles, including chocolates and lozenges.

You won’t find any Willie’s Reserve buds in Texas, but the CBD line could become available. CBD was only legalized here for medicinal use for epilepsy patients in 2015, however, several businesses sell brownies and other “edibles” made with the oil. Hemp wine debuted earlier this year, too, though it uses oil made from the hemp plant’s seed rather than the stalk, where CBD is extracted.

Willie Nelson joins New Belgium Brewing, and Vote Hemp to highlight economic benefits of hemp

Thursday, July 5th, 2018
by:  Thomas Mitchell

It’s not quite baseball and apple pie, but the list of combinations more American than beer, agriculture and country music is a short one. So the fireworks were in full effect when the trio of New Belgium Brewing, GCH Inc. (Willie Nelson’s legal cannabis company) and the Vote Hemp organization announced their partnership on Tuesday, July 3, to highlight the plant’s economic benefits and call for federal and state reform.

Expected to officially launch today, July 4, the American Hemp Campaign wants to encourage hemp farming in America by talking with lawmakers, industry influencers and the public about the economic benefits of domestic hemp production. Although state-legal programs helped push Americans to purchase at least $820 million worth of hemp products in 2017, according to the Hemp Business Journal, the plant still doesn’t have the full federal approval of other agricultural products like cotton or wheat thanks to hemp’s kinship with psychoactive marijuana plants.

The U.S. Senate passed the FARM bill last week, which includes provisions to legalize the cultivation, processing and sale of hemp. However, the bill must be merged with its counterpart in the House of Representatives during a bicameral conference committee before reaching President Donald Trump, so fully legalized hemp isn’t here just yet. Until then, the industrial-hemp industry — particularly the cannabidiol (CBD) sector — won’t be in the clear from potential prosecution by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

oth companies partnering with the campaign are familiar with the cannabis plant. New Belgium released its Hemperor HPA, a pale ale with a hemp base and stanky aroma, earlier in 2018, while GCH owns Willie’s Reserve, the commercial cannabis manufacturer offering products in Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. New Belgium distributes to all fifty states, and each has its own policies regarding hemp. According to New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer, this caused a variety of obstacles to releasing its hemp-friendly beer.

“At New Belgium we launched a hemp-based beer, the Hemperor HPA, this spring, and the regulatory hurdles to get to market just seemed outrageously outdated and onerous,” Fechheimer says. “Beer is an agricultural product, and we see hemp as a potentially game-changing ingredient in brewing, so we are proud to take a stand along with Willie and the Vote Hemp folks to get these laws updated to benefit beer drinkers and farmers across the country.”

Although the Red Headed Stranger himself couldn’t be reached for comment, GCH CEO Andrew Davison says in a statement that Nelson believes in the “importance of industrial hemp to help farmers, the environment and society,” and discusses the topic frequently. “We’re an American cannabis company, working to build his vision across all sectors of cannabis. We want to see hemp agriculture flourish in the U.S. again,” Davison adds.

Each of the participating entities will work to get other like-minded businesses and organizations involved in the campaign with the help of VS Strategies, the public-affairs arm of Denver-based cannabis law firm Vicente Sederberg.

Margo Price to Launch Pot Strain With Willie Nelson

Thursday, June 28th, 2018

As if Margo Price doesn’t already have enough cred, she can now add a special ordainment from the godfather himself: Her own special strain of Willie’s Reserve, the personal marijuana brand of Willie Nelson.

All American Made singer-songwriter’s strain is yet to be named or given a release date. “It was like, ‘Guys, some [musicians] want to sell clothes on the Home Shopping Network, but I want to sell weed.’ I just wanted to do it legally this time,” Price recalls. The opportunity to get involved stemmed from an invitation to a weed tasting at Nelson’s Luck Reunion party, held outside Austin, Texas, during South By Southwest. “I hope that it’s just the first of a venture that will lead to my being more involved in weed [retail].”

Besides adding that her strain will be indica, “which is great for [her] insomnia,” Price also admitted that she can see her outspoken views on legalization making her a target at her home in Tennessee. “Yeah, its kinda reached a point where I’ve started wondering if my house is going to get raided,” she says.

Selling cannabis-related products isn’t the only thing Price and Nelson are up to this summer. She’s also making select appearance on his Outlaw Music Festival Tour, but their next appearance on the same bill takes place on July 4th in Austin, Texas, for Nelson’s annual Fourth of July Picnic at Circuit of the Americas.

WIllie’s Reserve in Silverton

Monday, June 4th, 2018


Getting high with Willie Nelson (who could resist?)

Monday, May 14th, 2018
By:  Dave Thomas

Peer pressure must be something when that peer is Willie Nelson.

Only yesterday we shared a story about how Willie hectored Woody Harrelson into smoking weed again after a (somewhat) two-year break. Not that it was a huge challenge … “Every once in a while you’re going to have something edible. Let’s be real, I’m not a nun,” Harrelson said.

But Willie didn’t stop there. He also made a pot smoker out of retired NBA coach Don Nelson.

Whoa … Nellie?

Don Nelson, NBA
Photo:  Alex Williams

Yes, that’s what happens when you live in Hawaii alongside Willie and Woody and Owen Wilson and play lots of poker with them. In a recent interview with The New York Times, the former Dallas Mavericks coach touched on a range of subjects — current and past NBA teams, Hawaii, a daughter he didn’t know about for decades — but Willie comes up where you’d expect him …

“I didn’t smoke (marijuana) until maybe three or four years ago. I never smoked when I was coaching. I just started. Willie got me smoking.”

The New York Times reporter didn’t seem surprised.

“I didn’t think I’d ever be a pot smoker, but hanging out with Willie and Woody and guys like that … It just became kind of natural,” the coach said.

In case you were wondering, Don Nelson — who has his own medical card for old athletic injuries — grows his own strain called “Nellie Kush.”

Now the question is, who is Willie going to target next?

Willie Nelson releases new strain, “Last Man Standing”

Saturday, May 12th, 2018


by:  Sam D’Arcangelo

Country music legend Willie Nelson released Last Man Standing on April 27th. That last sentence may seem unremarkable—he has released 66 previous albums, after all—yet it gets a little more exciting when you realize Last Man Standing isn’t just the name of Willie’s latest record. It’s also the name of his latest marijuana strain.

Nelson, who celebrated his 85th birthday on April 29th, has been in the music business for 62 years. While he’s famously been an advocate of the marijuana plant since the 1960s, his time in the marijuana business—at least officially—began much more recently in 2015. That’s when Nelson co-founded Willie’s Reserve, a brand that sells paraphernalia, edibles, and old-fashioned buds on the United States’ growing legal marijuana market.

Considering Nelson’s music and marijuana ventures, it’s no surprise that some co-branding is in order. If anything, the only surprise is that it’s taken this long to happen. Last Man Standing is the fourth album that the prolific singer, songwriter, and musician has released since 2015, but it’s the first to lend its name to a Willie’s Reserve product.

“It comes from this huge plant with beautiful buds,” Shane Osburn, who bred and cultivated the strain at Sol Grow Mendocino with his wife Amelia. “It’s so expressive of its characteristics. When you walk past the plant it smells like an orange tree.”

“Willie is a soldier for the cannabis community,” adds Amelia. “We have total respect for how he’s told the world about what we do, through his music and through who he is… We’ve come pretty damn far from the point where they’d put you in prison for life for a seed to where we are now. It’s a lot of progress.”

“Welcome Back Son” — Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson and smoking pot

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Coach Don Nelson talks about Willie Nelson, Hawaii and marijuana

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018
by:  Alex Williams

Read entire article here.

MAUI, Hawaii — Regrets, he’s had a few. But say this about Don Nelson, the retired basketball coach: He definitely did it his way. 

On the way to 1,335 regular-season victories (a record), basketball’s mad scientist rocked pink fish ties on the sideline, quaffed Bud Lites at news conferences and helped change the way the game is played with “Nellie Ball,” a guerrilla-warfare strategy built around speedy, undersize lineups.

With the N.B.A. playoffs underway, we caught up with Mr. Nelson in his cavernous poker room, a Hall of Fame-caliber man cave where he hosts the island’s most exclusive poker game with Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson. Inside the paint, outside the box — there is only one Nellie.

So this is where those big games go down with Willie, Woody and Owen. How big are the pots? 

They can get up to $2,000 to $3,000, especially when Willie is in. He never saw a card he didn’t like. He raises every time, no matter what. Every time it goes by him, it’s $50, $50, $50. I’m conservative. But Willie, man, he’s wild. Woody is wild. Owen’s pretty good. Woody’s a terrible card player.

Pretty good chess player, though.                               

Oh, very good. Play you fast or slow.

That’s a serious shuffleboard table you have here. Do you guys play for money?

Yeah, I’d say so. I’ve paid for that shuffleboard table at least 10 times over. 

Have you been into cannabis for long?

No, I didn’t smoke until maybe three or four years ago. I never smoked when I was coaching. I just started. Willie got me smoking.

He would do it.

He would do it. I didn’t think I’d ever be a pot smoker, but hanging out with Willie and Woody and guys like that, you know, everybody smokes in those games. It just became kind of natural. Usually you’re smoking with your friends, sitting around, telling stories, you smoke a bowl. It’s not that I smoke all the time. I usually just smoke at night during poker games. Like Willie told me, it’s hard to be depressed when you’re smoking pot.

How do you like cannabis compared to alcohol?

I don’t drink anymore, because I like pot better. It’s about the same as alcohol, except you don’t have the aftereffect. There’s no hangover. I mean, I don’t drink to excess, anyway. But you know, even if you have a couple of drinks, you’re liable to have a headache in the morning.

On your farm, do you grow cannabis for dispensaries?

No, I just grow for myself. You’re allowed to grow up to 10 plants, so you have plenty to smoke. I’ve never sold. I would never do that.

How is the quality?

Oh, it’s great. Great stuff.  It’s called Nellie Kush. It’s O.G. and Hindu Kush. Hindu Kush is really good. It comes from India and the guy that brought it over mixed the two of them, so we’ve got Nellie Kush now.

Willie on Weed (High Times, October 2005)

Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Willie on Weed
High Times Magazine
October 2005
by Richard Cusick

When it comes to grass, Willie’s fans divide into three distinct camps:  stoners like myself who view Willie Nelson as a sterling example of humanity; politically conservative country folks who dislike the pot thing but cry in their beers whenever he sings “Crazy”; and finally, fans who don’t smoke and don’t care, but remain mildly amused by Shotgun Willie’s outlaw ways.  So, unlike most marijuana activists, Nelson doesn’t preach merely to the converted.  Arguably, on the strength of his art and his living example, he’s helped change more minds about marijuana than any other American.

“They’re watching me,” Nelson acknowledges.  “I’m like the canary in the coal mine.  As long as I can remember the words to my songs and do a good show, they say:  “Well, it may not be affecting them so much.”

And so, despite incessant interview request, HIGH TIMES has always been treated like a red-headed stranger by the managers, press agents, record companies, road managers and assorted family members who get paid to look out for Willie Nelson’s best interests.  Frankly, I don’t think the man himself gave a shit one way or the other.  We were all waiting for the right moment to make it happen.  The release of Willie’s long-delayed reggae CD, Countryman, turned out to be the right moment.  One look at the cover art proved that.  There are actually two covers:  “One for Wal-Mart,” Willie noted, and one for every fan of the singer’s favorite plant — with a big pot leaf commanding the center.

It’s the hottest day of the year.  The temperature on the field of Prince Geroge’s Stadium in Bowie, MD, reaches triple digits, but the Bob Dylan – Willie Nelson show has attracted a particular rugged type of music fan willing to roast for hours in the sun to secure a good seat on the general admission lawn.  I’m scheduled to meet with the American music legend for an hour and a half, but a family member’s illness delays Willie by nearly an hour.  How to stuff 30 years worth of interview into 30 minutes?  My strategy involves breaking the ice by bringing the musician’s old friend Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Allen St. Pierre, NORML’s executive director, along for the ride.  Willie has been a member of NORML’s advisory board for 22 years, and so I assumed their reputations would precede me…

The familiar sound of his guitar floats softly from a state-of-the-art sound system shelved above our heads on board one of the world’s most widely travelled and legendary tour buses.  A copy of Bob Dylan’s autobiography sits on the soft brown-leather couch in the front, while Willie holds court from a corner booth.  We will talk for the next 40 minutes without interruption — save for one very unusualy exception.

HT:  You’ve done reggae songs before, but Countryman is your first full-blown reggae album.  How did that happen?

WN:  Ten years ago, I went to see Chris Blackwell when he was the head of Island Records in Jamaica, and we talked about putting out a reggae album, Chris loved the idea, but I also played him a CD I produced called Spirit, and he said, “I love Spirit.  Let’s put that out now and y’all go finish the reggae and then we’ll put it out.”

But they had a shakeup, and he left the label.  So for 10 years it kinda laid there, until the good folks after at Lost Highway picked it up and ran with it.

Keith Stroup:  Does the title Countryman refer to the ganja growers up in the mountians?

WN:  Yeah.  That’s right.

HT:  I’ve always thought reggae and country gospel are very similar, not in sound so much as in spirit.

WN:  The way the musicians tell me, reggae took off – Peter Tosh, Toots and those guys — was that reggae came basically from country music, from listening to the radio in the United States and hearing WSM play ’em some Grand Old Opry.  When they told me that, I started thinking about how country songs just naturally lend themselves to a reggae rhythm.

HT:  Does marijuana help your songwriting?

WN:  I wrote most of my good songs before I ever heard of marijuana or used it, and I’m not sure that it doesn’t slow down your writing.

HT:  Really?

WN:  Well, if you’re hungry or on edge and you’re writing, you could always just sit down and smoke a little joint and not worry about it.  But some things you need to worry about.

HT:  So taking that edge off sometimes isn’t a good thing.

WN:  Yeah.  You need that age.

(Bob Dylan quielty enters the front of the bus — Yes, really.)

WN:  Hey! Bob! (rising from booth)  C’mere.  (A brief hug and Willie returns to the corner booth.)Â

Bob Dylan:  They gotcha trapped.

HT:  We got him now.

BD:  I’ll come back.

WN:  All right.

(exit Bob Dylan)

HT:  You know, I named my daughter after than man!

WN:  You did?

HT:  We figured the name works for either a boy or a girl.

WN:  Yeah, that’s true.  Well, he’s a good guy.  Believe it or not, that’s the first time I’ve seen him this tour.  We’ve been out two weeks.  He was gonna play some chess.  He asked me if I want to play some chess, so we can do it tomorrow or the next day.

HT:  I believe we were talking about songwriting.

WN:  I started writing songs a long time before I started smoking.  Well, I started smoking cigarettes when I was 4.  I started smoking something when I was 4.  Cedar bark, Grapevines, Cotton leaves, Coffee leaves.  I even tried Black Drop one time.

HT:  Black Drop?

WN:  It was an old laxative in powder form.  Cedar bark, I smoked that.  And then I used to raise hens, so I would trade a dozen eggs for a pack of cigarettes back in those days.  About 18 cents, I think.  About 18 or 20 cents for a pack of cigarettes.  Lucky Strikes.  Camels.

HT:  In your autobiography, you said that marijuana got you off cigarettes and drinking.

WN:  Yeah.  I knew I was killing myself with cigarettes, and I knew I was really putting myself in danger with drinking so much, so somewhere along the way I decided.  “Wait a minute!  You know, do what you can do.”  In the early years, I drank all the time.  Mainly before pot.  Up until then, I was into whiskey and uppers.  You know, that’s the deal.  Truck drivers had the bennies when they made those LA turnaounds, and all that stuff was going around.  All the guitar players had it.

HT:  Fred Lockwood.  He was the first guy to ever turn you on to pot?

WN:  Yeah. A Fort Worth musician.  That’s right.

HT:  Fred Lockwood was not only the first person to give you a joint, as I understand it, he’s always the guy who gave you the line.  “I Gotta Get Drunk and I Sure do Regret It.”

WN:  There was two.  There was Fred Lockwood and there was Ace Lockwood.  They were brothers.  Fred was the one who gave me the line, “I Gotta Get Drunk and I sure Do Regret It” and his brother Ace went and gave me a itty bitty little snuff can full of pot one time.

HT:  So that was your first ime around the block?

WN:  I played a club there, and we played together.  These guys were musicians, so we went over to their house, and Fred and I were playing dominoes.  That was the first time I ever smoked it.  I think I smoked it about six months before I ever got high.  And then, all of a sudden:  “Oh yeah –that’s what that is.”

HT:  Willie, you’re a musician known for making political stands.  Not every musician does that.

WN:  I’ve let my beliefs be known and they turned out to be political.  I didn’t start out taking any political stands — just taking stands.

HT:  You just think a certain way and…

KS…groups like NORML start using you politically.

HT:  You’ve also been out front about your use of cannabis for a long time.  Have you taken a lot of flak for it over your career.

WN:  Zero that I know of.

HT:  It’s amazing how you get buy.

WN:  Well, I got busted.

HT:  750,000 people got busted for marijuana last year.

KS:  Yeah, but none of them got busted because they slept on the side of the highway and then raised the “hand-rolled cigarette defense.” Which I don’t believe has worked for anybody else — wasn’t that it?

WN:  You can’t assume that a rolled-up cigarette in an ashtray, looking through the window, is a marijuana cigarette.

KS:  In Texas, in particular!  I think of that as the Willie Nelson Defense.

WN:  I thought it was brilliant.

KS:  I did, too.

HT:  I hope you don’t mind my blazing, but I’m about to see Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan play.

WN:  You’ve gotta get there.

HT:  Well, I know you recommend moderation.

WN:  Moderation is always the key, even for pot.  You can over-do pot.  And it’s not for the kids… After they get 18, 21 years old, they’re going to try whatever they’re gonna try…

HT:  What’s the difference smoking pot 50 years ago and now?

WN:  It costs more money.

HT:  People say it’s better now, but I don’t remember not getting high 25 years ago.

WN:  No, I don’t either.  You know, it’s kind of like sex — there’s none bad, but there’s just some that’s better.  I think our tolerance is pretty good, too.

HT:  I ususlaly stop for a month every year or so.

KS:  I usualy stop for a few days every now and then — because I run out.

WN:  I intentionally let myself run out every now and then.

KS:  A couple of days into that, I usually say, “Let me rethink that decision.”

WN:  Either that or one of the guys’ll bring me one and say, “Here, don’t you think it’s time?