Archive for the ‘marijuana, NORML, hemp’ Category
Texas NORML is holding their 4th Annual Puff N Putt Golf Tournament on March 25, 2017, at Willie Nelson’s Pedernalis Golf Course in Spicewood, Texas.
After decades of advocating for legalization of marijuana, outlaw country singer Willie Nelson talks about releasing his own brand of marijuana in Colorado and Washington. He said federal efforts to crack down on states that have legalized the drug won’t be successful. (Jan. 12)
by: Zaron Burnett
A soldier the size of an oak tree stands in the Texas heat, sipping from a red plastic cup of warming beer. He tells me his name is David. His intimidatingly huge tattoo of a shrieking bald eagle and waving American flag on his equally massive bicep suggests David leans conservative. But he’s reluctant to admit this to me. The reason may be that I’m one of the few black faces at a country show in the rural exurbs of Austin. David assumes we’ll disagree, politically. After he enjoys another swallow of beer, David seeks common ground. He happily confides this is the first time he’s ever seen Willie Nelson perform live. He and his girlfriend have driven across Texas to see this show.
We’re at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack. It hosts Formula One races, and just like Texas it’s a big open space. Under the high sun and thin clouds, a hot, hollow wind whips across the track. Throughout the early afternoon, the music emanating from multiple stages gets caught and garbled by sudden gusts of air. If you’ve never been down in Austin in July, it’s hotter than the Devil’s balls. The heat forces people to huddle together in small spots of shade. Any direction you look, strangers share the cool.
Thousands of fans––both brand new and diehard––traveled here, like David, for Willie Nelson’s annual Fourth of July picnic. There are American flags everywhere. You spot flags on the sweating cans of domestic beers. They decorate T-shirts that stretch across the bellies of fans, they unfurl and sag under the heft of a breast suspended by a tank top and nothing else; as a bandana, a flag holds back the hair of a blonde boy. The unmistakable skunk smell of pot wafts through the crowd, lacing the event with a hippie vibe. Meanwhile, families gather on picnic blankets on the grass. Baby-boomer grandparents huddle with grandkids in the stands of seats. They clap along together to an opening act. It’s proof that as much as things change, some things stay the same. Budweiser wets the smiles of sun-baked fans whose shoulders are already the color of cooked lobsters. But they don’t care about the sun. Not today. They’re eager to see the outlaw country legend take the stage.
Behind a food truck, on her break, a young black woman smokes a cigarette. We nod and smile like two travelers lost in a strange land. Her name is Crystal Banks. Twenty-five years old, she’s come from Daytona to work this event to raise money for her non-profit group back in Atlanta, Georgia–Soul Kids. She travels all over America selling food at concerts. Her face is proud. You sense what she does matters to her. When I ask her about the show, Crystal admits she’s not super excited to see Willie perform. But she likes that he smokes pot. She credits Willie as a leading advocate for legalization. Like him, she’s dedicated to social justice. Crystal mentions her active involvement in #BlackLivesMatter. It excites her about our future: the idea everyone can come together and change. Like a missionary for his music, I attempt to explain why Crystal may really enjoy Willie’s songs. She listens, says she’ll check out his show.
Whether it’s disdain for the corniness of modern country music or the constant search for something new, lots of millennials fail to appreciate the legendary Willie Nelson. Yet the dude is a musical treasure—and a uniquely American one at that. Like, have you ever heard “Crazy” by Patsy Cline? Willie wrote that. You know his most famous song, “On the Road Again”? He was starring in his first Hollywood movie. They needed a song for the film. Chatting with the producer on a flight, Willie wrote the lyrics on an airline vomit bag. (Not the way most people would use a vomit bag while talking with a Hollywood producer.)
His songwriting conjures deep emotions with often simple phrases. Consider his song, “Funny How Time Slips Away.” He sings about the perpetual slip of time, the long leash of memory. But rather than languish in sadness, Willie relies on perspective to see the tragic nature of life as something that can be painfully funny. He’s like a zen cowboy singing the blues. The song is so relatable that Elvis, Al Green, and The Supremes all covered it. Check how he changes the definition of time. First it’s proof of a lover’s bond; then, paradoxically, it becomes a way to be released from love’s grip.
How’s your new love
I hope that he’s doin’ fine
I heard you told him
That you’d love him till the end of time
Well you know, that’s the same thing
That you told me
Seems like just the other day
Yeah, ain’t it funny how time slips away
As a singer, Willie boasts one of the most immediately recognizable, soulful voices. Fellow country legend Loretta Lynn said “you can’t miss who he is when he starts singing. That’s what makes an artist.” And no doubt, Willie is a great artist. Check the complicated moral world of his album Red Headed Stranger for proof of that.
Willie loves to stay behind the beat, literally singing to the sound of his own drummer. His phrasing is as emotionally evocative as Sinatra’s. His playing is loose, like Django. His voice can make you ache, or laugh—sometimes in the same song. At South By Southwest in 2014, Lil Wayne said in a keynote interview, “I wanna just be remembered as ‘Man, that nigga was cool. He did great ass music and that’s who he is. Period.” His example of what that looks like, “You know what I mean? Like a… a Willie Nelson.”
Still performing at 83 years old, Willie Nelson seems most at home on the road, in front of a crowd, sharing music with his fans. But over the years Willie’s expanded his creative pursuits. He’s appeared in 40 films. He’s written nine books. His latest one, Pretty Paper, tells the story of his beloved Christmas song of the same name. He’s been a longtime force for philanthropy, raising millions with his annual FarmAid concerts. He’s also started future-minded business ventures like his biodiesel company called BioWillie. And after his decades-long advocacy for marijuana legalization, he has his own brand of recreational marijuana called Willie’s Reserve. With California passing Proposition 64 to legalize recreational marijuana––which many believe will prompt a change in federal law––Willie Nelson, known for his occasional pot bust, looks to be the rare outlaw who’s lasted so long the law will eventually change to accept him. He’s a rare one, all right. He’s also one of our best examples of an American.
Standing backstage, waiting for his tour bus to arrive, I chat with his manager Martin and his PR rep Elaine. They both mention how you can’t help but feel this “Willie effect” when you meet him. Elaine says that he’s one of those rare human beings: More so than meeting the president, you feel something very special about Willie Nelson. The people close to him all say the same thing, that just being around Willie makes you want to be a better person. Even those never lucky enough to meet the man can sense this quality. Whether Republican or Democrat, red state or blue, everyone loves Willie. His voice, his songs, his easy country charm—these all remind us of our better selves.
When Willie steps out of the back room of his tour bus, he smiles. It’s Willie fucking Nelson. Martin does the introductions. Shaking hands, Willie’s grip is powerful. His arms are long and strong. His clean-shaven face is speckled with a day’s growth of short white fuzz that dusts his cheeks and chin. Over his shoulder, as he sits down at a table with me, is a framed cork board filled with a mosaic of his family photos. There’s so much to take in. But mostly, you want to focus on his face––his famous grin, as it lifts with a mix of mischief and playful curiosity. Willie gets comfortable. His grin spreads wider. He’s ready to answer some questions. He’s heard them all.
Noisey: You’re 83 years old, and you stay busier than most 30 year olds. How many shows do you think you’ll play this year?
Willie Nelson: Oh I don’t know, uh… I don’t really count them. ( Laughs)
What keeps you out on the road, year after year?
We enjoy playing, and the crowds keep coming, and they enjoy our music. So long as they keep coming, we’ll keep coming out here.
You’ve been to every single Willie Nelson show there’s ever been. What keeps it special for you?
Fortunately I have a short-term memory. ( Laughs)
You once said the best advice you ever heard was from a guy who told you, “Take my advice: Do what you want to.” Would you say that’s pretty much been your life philosophy?
Pretty much. As long as you aren’t hurting anybody else.
You can’t interview Willie Nelson and not talk about marijuana.
You got some?
Honestly, I had to fly here from California and couldn’t bring any on the plane.
Yeah, I know how that is.
Do you still smoke every day?
Hmm, let’s see… um, yeah! ( Laughs). I had to think about that. Yeah, I do. (Laughs harder).
Even famous people love to say they’ve smoked with Willie Nelson. Like, for rappers, it’s legit street cred to say they’ve smoked with you. So, let’s flip it. Who’s your favorite celeb you’ve ever smoked with?
Oh, I don’t know. Snoop. He and I are… real good friends.
What about Kris Kristofferson?
Yes… He and I used to burn ’em down. ( Laughs)
There’s a story you once smoked pot on top of the White House. And I’ve always wondered: How did you get up on the roof?
That short term memory loss makes it hard to remember. I don’t exactly remember how I got up there. I did notice that all the streets come at you from every direction when you’re up on top of the White House.
What is the view like from the roof of the White House?
It’s like you’re at the center of the world.
You’ve said you never thought you’d live to see legalized marijuana. And now you own a brand of your own recreational pot called Willie’s Reserve that you can legally sell in states like Colorado. Do you ever get tired of knowing what’s best for America and having to wait for everyone else to catch up?
(Laughs hard) Yes! But, fortunately, the world does catch up. Like, even the farmers are realizing they can do pretty good with organic farming, and the farmer’s markets are doing pretty good. People are realizing they can buy from the local farmer without having their breakfast trucked in from 1500 miles away. So, yeah, I think people are getting educated, and they’re concerned about what they eat, what they drink, what they smoke. I like to think we’re getting a little bit smarter.
Since you tend to be on the right side of history before it happens, what do you see on the horizon for the next ten to 20 years? What’s exciting you? What’s giving you hope for America?
Well, I think fortunately we’re not in control. The Earth is going to do what it wants to do—with or without us. We’re just kind of along for the ride. I think we should be more concerned about how we treat it. Just as self-defense, if nothing else. Because if the Earth don’t like you, your ass is gone. If the planet thinks you’re a flea biting it on the foot, there’s a little earthquake and you’re out of it. The Earth is going to be all right.
I don’t think I’m that deep. I just hope I remember ‘Whiskey River.’ And if I forget the words, I can always just play an instrumental. That’s where Trigger comes in.”
On a sunnier note, a lot of millennials have gotten into vinyl over the last few years. What legends of country music—like Bob Wills, Wanda Jackson, Patsy Cline—should millennial record collectors get to know?
Those are all good. I’d mention Hank Williams, Ray Price, Vern Gosdin. These are guys from the early country music days. Bob Wills is good. Ray Pruitt. Charley Pride.
You named your guitar Trigger after the name of the horse of your favorite singing cowboy hero, Roy Rogers.
Do you think sitting in a theater watching all those white hat cowboy movie serials as a little boy imprinted you with the basic notion that the universe arcs towards justice? You know, the way it did in those 30s and 40s cowboy movies?
I think they taught right and wrong. Obviously, they simplified it to the point the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. That’s over-simplifying it, but it made it simple enough that a young kid growing up who liked to ride a horse and shoot a gun and sing a song and play a guitar, he could relate to Gene (Autry), or Roy (Rogers), and those guys.
Trigger has been kept alive with decades of work from a luthier, at this point, how long have you and Trigger been together?
Oh, I don’t know. Fifty years, maybe.
Willie’s manager: Coming up on 65 years.
How do you relate to your guitar at this point? Is it like as soon as you feel it in your hands you’re ready to make music?
Willie Nelson: Well, I don’t think I’m that deep. ( Laughs hard) I just hope I remember “Whiskey River.” And if I forget the words, I can always just play an instrumental. That’s where Trigger comes in.
You specifically picked Trigger—a classical-style guitar—so you could sound like your favorite guitarist, Django Reinhardt.
I’ve just always really liked Django’s sound. His playing is incredible.
The looseness of that gypsy sound seems to match your free-wheeling spirit.
Well, you know, Billy Joe Shaver wrote a song about me called “Willie the Wandering Gypsy.”
Great song. What are some of your favorite ones by Django?
“Nuage” is a great song. “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight” is a great song of his. In fact, I think I’ll play that one tonight.
You and Waylon Jennings had a special friendship. It sure seemed like you guys had a ton of fun when you were off the stage. What’s one of your favorite memories of Waylon, a story that doesn’t involve music?
One that doesn’t involve music? That would be difficult. We once did a movie together. Stagecoach. It was John (Cash), and everybody, Kris (Kristofferson). It was a real good time. We all enjoyed it. We got to build an old west town, pick together, ride a horse, just have fun.
You were also close friends with Johnny Cash. The dude’s an undisputed country legend. What’s one of your favorite memories of Johnny? Something no one else knows about him.
Well I don’t know what everyone else knows. All I know is we toured the world together. Did a couple of world tours together. Every day, I was amazed at how straightforward he was. And how he stayed on the path. How he stayed Johnny Cash. All the way. He always did what he wanted to do. And he always did it well.
Like you, Johnny Cash was a man with a strong sense of social justice. He fought for prison reform. He fought against prejudice of every stripe. He was an activist for Native American civil rights. Both you and Johnny Cash have always looked out for the oppressed, the struggling, the ones ground down by society. In Johnny’s case, he’d likely say it’s the Christian thing to do. But that attitude is falling away in American culture. Why do you think so many American Christians forget their Christian values as soon as we’re talking about a national crisis like refugees?
I don’t know. I don’t think it’s just Christians that forget about their faith–
Oh definitely. I don’t mean to pick on Christians. That habit of forgetfulness goes across the board.
Yeah, I think it does. We all have a tendency to get fat and lazy and forget where we come from and how it used to be and how other people are going through what we used to go through.
In the 80s you ran into serious money trouble. Your accountants tanked your books, didn’t pay your taxes for years, and you wound up owing Uncle Sam $16 million dollars. But rather than declare bankruptcy, like most rich people would, you struck a deal with the tax man and said let’s make some albums. You called them The IRS Tapes: Who Will Buy My Memories . It’s a great story, but why did you do it?
I do not believe in bankruptcy. I would never do that. Because I don’t want people going away and saying I screwed them out of some money. That’s not what I do.
When the IRS auctioned off some of your possessions that they’d seized, your fans showed up, bought all your stuff, and then unlike most fans they gave it all back to you. How did that moment feel for you?
Well, you know, there have been a lot of moments when I felt like the richest guy in the world. That was definitely one of them.
Sure some of those fans weren’t necessarily well-off; they were likely making sacrifices, spending money that was needed in their own lives, but they wanted to give it to the iRS for you.
Absolutely. (He grows quiet, seemingly humbled at the memory) It’s nice to know there’s still good people out there who want to take care of you and themselves and each other. And that we’re all concerned about each other. It’s back to the old adage: Treat other people how you want to be treated.
I spoke with a lot of your fans before the show; nearly everyone of them mentioned the generosity of your spirit. How do you stay sensitive and open in a world that can be so brutal?
Well, really it’s a selfish thing. I feel good doing it.
“A certain percentage of people… believe the worst in everybody and like to hear about it, and they think we ought to go around the world making other people do what we want them to do, and I don’t believe that way.”
Do you have a secret to feeling good on those days when you don’t feel good? Like, do you have any personal mantras, little things you tell yourself?
Shut up… is a good one.
You’ve always been a very spiritual person. Although you’re never overtly religious. At this point, what is your relationship with God? Are you believer? And if so, how do you imagine God?
I do believe there is a higher power. I believe that somebody put this all together. It didn’t just happen one morning. So yeah, I have my own experience of and relationship to a higher power that I feel that pretty much knows what I’m doing and if I’m doing something wrong I pretty much feel it.
Like the little voice inside?
Yeah. I definitely say it’s a feeling. And a belief that there is a higher power. That you’re not the only thing.
Back in 2012, when Roseanne Barr ran for president, she asked you to be her vice president and you said yes. How did that come about?
I was drunk. (Laughs really hard) And I sobered up the next day and I was like, fuck this. I have to get out of this race. (Laughs hard)
If only more politicians had your wisdom. Now we have Donald Trump running for President. His candidacy isn’t seen as a political stunt. He’s the Republican nominee for President. [And will go on to win the election.] What do you think has gone wrong in America that we’ve come to this—that millions of people are willing to accept and or support Donald Trump as the leader of the free world?
I think there’s always been that element. I’m not sure what the percentage is but a certain percentage of people who believe the worst in everybody and like to hear about it, and they think we ought to go around the world making other people do what we want them to do, and I don’t believe that way.
You have a new book out, Pretty Paper . It’s the story of your Christmas song of the same name. As far as your creative process, when you sit down to write a story is it a much different process than when you’re writing a song?
Well, it’s much easier to write something that you don’t have to rhyme. (Laughs)
You like to say that sometimes you’ll get in a car, start driving and a song will come to you. Do you find that it helps you to be moving?
I think it helps me. I don’t know about anyone else but for me if I really wanted to write a song, like real bad and real quick, I think I could jump in a car and take off down the road and come back in a hundred miles and I’d have a song—maybe an album!You seem to have a lot of fun as an actor. Which one is easier for you—acting or songwriting?
Well, naturally songwriting is what I do. For me, it’s hard to do the same thing twice. That’s where acting is a challenge. You’ve go out and do it over and over and over again. The same tempo, the same way, the same expressions. And that can get boring.
One question about Hollywood versus Nashville: Which executives are worse to deal with
The ones who don’t agree with me. ( Laughs)
In a career as long as yours, what makes you feel the most pride at the day-to-day level?
Oh I don’t know. The music is always important. If the crowd comes out to hear some music and we play it for them then I think you’ve completed the contract. Everybody’s happy. And then you go away and do it again tomorrow night.
Thank you for your time, Willie. Nice talking with you.
It was nice talking with you. (A mischievous smile lifts his cheeks) Do you wanna burn one?
Willie Nelson’s Love Affair With Weed Made Him An Outlaw And A Country Music Revolutionary
by: Christian Long
Few artists are as readily associated with marijuana as country crooner Willie Nelson. In terms of identifiable pieces of the man, Nelson’s love of weed is right up there with the song “On The Road Again,” his long, braided locks, and his old, beat-up guitar, Trigger. But Nelson’s pro-pot advocacy wasn’t always something he pinned to his sleeve. Instead, his public affair with marijuana came about much like his career in the spotlight: Entirely on his own terms.
When Nelson first started out, the world of country music was drilled down deep into the center of Nashville, Tennessee and mired in tradition. The audience was largely conservative, and as a result, Nelson went along to get along, presenting himself as a buttoned-down Western crooner with a knack for writing songs that had peculiar phrasing, which gave him a signature sound but not a standout look or personality. Eventually, Nelson wouldn’t so much find his niche as make it himself, writing songs that took a new and confident approach to the long-standing traditions of country music. As far as his personal habits, he was a known smoker for many years — and he has the arrest record to prove it — but over time Nelson would become one of the most renowned and outspoken advocates for marijuana legalization.
Here’s a look at how Willie Nelson ended up transforming, not just the sound of country music, but the culture as well.
Even back in Nelson’s crisp white shirt days, he’d always fancied himself a smoker. Growing up in the small town of Abbott, Texas, he told GQ that there was nothing to do there but “f*ck, fight, and throw rocks.” To alleviate the boredom, Nelson took to smoking “anything you could roll up,” which included everything from lawn clippings to tree bark. He first tried pot when he was 11 or 12 while hanging out with his cousin. “He had asthma, and the doctors gave him a cigarette to smoke. An asthma cigarette. And he offered me a puff off it, and I didn’t particularly care for it so I handed it back to him.”
A decade went by before he first tried pot again, this time when starting out as a country singer in the early 1950s. He told Cannabist that he was playing at a club in Fort Worth, Texas, and, like many of us, simply “ran into a guy who smoked pot.” Nelson, already a veteran smoker by then, started to incorporate pot into his routine, but admits that he went a “long time without getting high — for months I would smoke and smoke and I wasn’t getting high, and I couldn’t figure out why.” He eventually blamed the poor state of his lungs for keeping the true bliss of this fresh relationship at bay. Nelson stuck with it, though, and eventually had his eureka moment.
In his 2015 memoir It’s A Long Story, Nelson admits that he dealt with a bit of a stigma as a marijuana user in the clean-cut world of country music, but never opted to quit outright, explaining that he “couldn’t betray marijuana any more than I could betray a family member or lifelong friend.”
Nelson, it turns out, was used to being an outsider. He moved to Nashville in 1960 where he soon got a job as a songwriter and famously penned hits like Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” and Ray Price’s “Night Life.” But while the chord progressions he’d write out on the page would deviate from convention, his style on stage was practically abstract art. He’d sing just off the beat, either a little ahead or a little behind, which proved to be too off-putting to country music fans, most of whom were steeped in decades of tradition.
As the mecca of traditional country music, the Nashville sound was (and is) categorized by slick-sounding productions delivered in a more conventional style. Between his musical leanings and casual marijuana use, Nelson didn’t feel like Nashville was a natural fit and returned to his home state of Texas in 1970. Despite having his song “I’m A Memory” crack the top 30 the following year, Nelson was frustrated to the point that he quit music altogether.
Finding His Voice, His Audience, And His Home
It wasn’t until 1972, when he discovered Austin — at the time, a sleepy college town known for its laid-back attitude and low-key party atmosphere — that he felt right. There, he didn’t feel the creative limitations that Nashville tried to force down his throat and he soon found an audience for his unique brand of country music that was tinged with jazz, blues, and gospel. It was there that he was able to come into his own by putting out some of the most memorable songs of his career; a period that would lay the foundation for the birth of outlaw country.
As Nelson explained to the The Guardian in 2012, he saw Austin as a place to write and perform the songs he wanted to. Finally, he would be able to do it all his own way.
“I saw hippies and rednecks drinking beer together and smoking dope together and having a good time together and I knew it was possible to get all groups of people together — long hair, short hair, no hair — and music would bring them together.”
By 1974, Nelson had his first No. 1 hit with “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain.” He’d also grown out his shaggy hair and beard and kept up his outlaw persona, racking up his first marijuana arrest when he was busted for possession in Dallas — first of many he’d experience over the years.
Nelson’s arrest in Dallas began what would become a very public reputation with marijuana, one that even followed him to the White House back in 1976 when he was invited by then-President Jimmy Carter to thank him for all the work on his campaign. Nelson later revealed that he smoked a joint on the White House roof that night, but for years he remained coy about who he smoked it with. Turns out he’s mostly certain that it was Chip Carter, Jimmy Carter’s middle child.
Sill, marijuana had become far more than a way to collect wild anecdotes, as Nelson has flatly stated that he “would have been dead if it hadn’t been for pot.” He always had a bad temper, something he blames on his red hair, but he explained that drinking always made it worse. “When I was out in the bars drinking and fighting I was a little bit less of a peacemaker than I would be if I’d had a couple hits of a joint and gone and laid down somewhere. I’d have less bumps on my head, that’s for sure.”
While he’ll still take a drink on occasion, Nelson replaced booze with pot, something he’d eventually do with cigarettes after his lung collapsed while he was swimming in Hawaii back in 1981. After he was hospitalized, he knew that he had to quit one or the other, and told NPR in 2012 that he simply “took a pack of Chesterfields and took all the Chesterfields out, rolled up 20 big fat ones and put [them] in there, and I haven’t smoked a cigarette since then.”
Before long, all of Nelson’s vices were replaced with marijuana, writing in his memoir that “unlike booze, it had never made me nasty or violent. Unlike cocaine, it never sped me up or fired up my ego.” He refers to his use of the drug as something that started as a “love affair” and eventually “turned into a long-term marriage.”
Advocacy And Influence
Nelson’s relationship with marijuana has become more than a running gag for the last several years. As an outspoken advocate of its legalization, he became one of the first celebrities to publicly address it.
As Nelson states early on in the above clip from 2010, he saw the legalization of weed as an inevitability, albeit one that would take not only patience but the right combination of circumstances. That same year, nearly a dozen states had already legalized the drug for medicinal use, and with each passing year, more and more states have changed their laws. In 2012, Colorado and Washington both voted to legalize its use recreationally, without a medical prerequisite, which would’ve been unthinkable a few years earlier.
While no one can single-handedly spark up a movement, it’s clear that the cultural acceptance gained by Nelson’s free embrace (despite the occasional legal dustup) had an effect on a burgeoning movement to legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana across the country. One that has turned conservative bastions like Nelson’s home state of Texas into a place where medicinal weed is now legal and there is talk about going even further in the future.
Of course, this isn’t just about the embrace of pot as an artistic or lifestyle choice, it’s about the cold feel of a law pushing down on something it doesn’t understand, despite the proven benefits that range from helping with anxiety to enriching the lives of those suffering from cancer (and that’s to say nothing of the possible economic effect). Even Nelson himself, who is in large part the face of legalization, has admitted for years that he uses marijuana to simply help him deal with stress, and that if more people followed his lead, “It would make us get along better — all over the world.”
As the laws continue to loosen across the country, including full recreational legalization and sentence re-negotiation for marijuana-related crimes in California, Nelson announced his own strain of marijuana earlier this year, named Willie’s Reserve. Bearing the tagline “Indulge with Confidence,” he announced via press release that he’s “smoked enough and wants to give back.” As a longtime environmental advocate, Nelson was “committed to have our crops farmed in an environmentally responsible way; to revitalize small farms and to grow it as clean as possible.”
In years past, the weed he smoked was met with the highest acclaim from fellow musicians like Norah Jones and Toby Keith (who said he couldn’t function after smoking with Nelson and later wrote a song about it). So when Nelson eventually got around to putting his name on a strain of his own, it came as no surprise that it was met with high acclaim from connoisseurs.
Of course, for all the earnestness in his advocacy, Nelson still finds time to poke fun at himself and his 420-friendly persona, showing up in movies like Half Baked and The Dukes of Hazard, and cultivating a close friendship with fellow weed enthusiast, Snoop Dogg. In fact, Nelson and weed have become so inseparable that earlier this year when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe grabbed a quick photo opp with him on his tour bus, there was weed right there on the table. There was also a general lack of public outcry over the matter, proving that the times have, indeed, changed.
Nelson’s influence is still found all throughout the fringes of country music. Back in the ’70s, he brought along the likes of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams Jr. with him into the uncharted territory of outlaw country. Suddenly, the polished arrangements and family-friendly Nashville standards were tossed aside, and each artist brought their own unique voice to the burgeoning genre, deepening the genre while bringing new listeners into the fold.
The resonating influence of outlaw country can still be heard today, from Cross Canadian Ragweed and Reckless Kelly, who bring the same carefree arrangments and good-time spirit to their music that Nelson does. Hank Williams III, whose pro-party anthems bridge the gap between traditional country and hardcore punk, can also count Nelson as an influence. While Nashville’s still alive and well, the longstanding countermovement of bands wanting to explore the whiskey-soaked, smoke-stained side of country music can all be traced back to Nelson as well.
Beyond any creative benefits and assists to the construction of Nelson’s image, the iconic crooner also believes that the drug has a spiritual precedent, readily explaining that “it’s in The Bible,” before citing Ezekiel 34:29, “where Jesus is talking about seeds and he said, ‘I bring you a seed of renown for the miseries of humanity.” But above all that, Nelson believes that “it’s medicine, and it’s already been proven to be medicine. End of story.”
Throughout Nelson’s very public relationship with marijuana, it’s remained a facet of his personality instead of what defines it. A country crooner who’s spent his career redefining the rules as he goes, as the national attitude on weed continues to become more relaxed, Nelson’s been able to incorporate his true feelings for marijuana in a country song, something that would’ve simply been out of the question when he bumped into a stranger at a club in Ft. Worth all those years ago.
Willie Nelson vapes. In fact he introduced Snoop Dogg to vaping. Sounds like a bit of trivia to share at a party. But it also sheds light on why more and more smokers are turning to vaporizers.
Willie Nelson vapes. In fact he introduced Snoop Dogg to vaping. Sounds like a bit of trivia to share at a party. But it also sheds light on why more and more smokers are turning to vaporizers.
The Legend Didn’t Always Use a Vaporizer
Willie–we’re pretty sure we can call him Willie–has always been the most honest about his pot use. Even after several arrests for pot possession. Not that the 83-year-old singer/songwriter is that outspoken. He just doesn’t hide it like other famous people do. Perhaps that’s why anything he says about pot, including his opinion on dabbing, edibles, and vaping ends up being newsworthy. Willie explained his stance on smoking vs vaping to Larry King:
“I’ve changed my habits a little bit.” He told King on CNN. “I’ve smoked so much and I got congestion from it, wheezing in the night and coughing. So I switched over to a vaporizer. You don’t get any smoke, and you don’t get any heat. And for a singer, or someone’s lungs, it’s much, much healthier.”
That pretty much answers the Is vaping better than smoking question, not that science hasn’t already chimed in.
So what does Willie Nelson consider the best vaporizer for weed?
The Red Headed Vaper
When asked whether he prefers a desktop vaporizer or vape pen, Nelson told CelebStoner, “There are a few of those little pens going around. I see them around California, those e-cigarette type pens. They’re all right.”
That suggests he’s more of a tabletop vaping session guy. In fact, he can be seen on Youtube sharing a desktop vape session with Snoop Dogg, who claims Willie Nelson is the only person who ever outsmoked him–a high accolade.
When asked if he dabbles in dabbing, the man many call a ‘country music legend’ said, “No, I don’t really like any of those things. But vaporizers are good for your lungs. Cigarette smoke will kill you. I never heard of anybody dying from marijuana smoke. Vaporizers I think are smarter.” He’s also admitted he doesn’t use edibles after a pot cookie mishap decades back.
Willie Nelson has a point about the positive effects of vaping for those looking for an alternative to smoking. Research shows that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, a now famous statistic.
Desktop Vaporizer vs Portable Vaporizer
Why Willie Nelson Switched To A VaporizerAs for Willie’s preference for desktop vaporizers, these units are likelier to produce bigger, stronger hits than portables, which a long-time smoker would appreciate. Desktop units are also great for sharing during vape sessions, and we all know Willie Nelson’s penchant for inviting fans and famous folks alike for a toke on his bio-diesel tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose.
And then there’s the question of vapor purity. After all, people usually switch to vaporizers to avoid the harmful by-products of smoking weed. Desktop units like the Herbalizer, often touted as the best vaporizer ever, produce incredibly pure vapor that would appeal to those switching from smoking to vaping for health reasons, as well as connoisseurs who appreciate smoother, more flavorful hits.
Choosing the best vape is a matter of subjectivity that comes down to preference. Do you share when you vape? Do you like big hits or small puffs? Does your lifestyle require vaping on-the-go? But if Willie Nelson has an opinion on anything weed-related, it’s worth listening to.
Willie Nelson plays his guitar at Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego, California on October 19,2016. The country music legend discussed his history with marijuana, the time he stole and tried to smoke hemp and his new cannabis line, Willie’s Reserve which is for sale in Colorado with Cannabist editor-in-chief Ricardo Baca on his bus before the show.
SAN DIEGO — Willie Nelson’s relationship with cannabis is the stuff of legend.
Nelson is a legalization activist, a social warrior and now a ganjapreneur via his own Willie’s Reserve pot brand, and he still gets high regularly at age 83. But he’s also not the most discerning of cannabis consumers. Does Nelson prefer energetic sativa marijuana strains to the more calming indicas? “They’re both good,” he tells me. Does he prefer smoking weed to vaporizing cannabis oil? “I enjoy smoking both ways,” he says with an affable smile.
Nelson becomes more passionate when addressing how this plant is often grown, especially in unregulated environments: “I don’t like it when they put chemicals and pesticides in it; That makes it not much better than a regular old cigarette.”
Sitting across the table from an eagle-eyed Nelson in his tour bus, I ask the country music legend if he considers himself to be a connoisseur of cannabis.
“I guess if anybody is, I would be,” he says, letting out a grizzled laugh that virtually self-italicizes the last part of the sentence.
It’s mid-October T-shirt weather here in southern California as a capacity crowd of 1,400 fans assembles inside the seaside Humphreys Concerts by the Bay venue — and also as more than 71 million viewers tune in to the third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Right as the San Diego venue’s doors open and as the candidates begin their sparring match more than 300 miles away in Las Vegas, my producer and I are ushered into Nelson’s tour bus — the fifth to roam roads under the Honeysuckle Rose banner, Nelson’s wife Annie kindly tells us. A few minutes later I’m sitting across a crowded table from the man, the myth, the legendary stoner.
When I mention that evening’s debate and the unprecedentedly bizarre presidential campaign leading up to it, Nelson grins.
“I just wrote a song called ‘Delete and Fast-Forward.’ I’m in the process of writing it. It’s, ‘Delete and fast-forward, my son. The wars are all over, and nobody won. But don’t worry too much about it. You’ll just go crazy again. So just delete and fast-forward, my friend.’ ”
I ask him if he’s applying his metaphor real-time, given that he’s talking to a journalist instead of watching the debate before his concert. He looks around his silent second home and laughs.
“Notice we’re not watching (the debate),” he says. “That’s a good sign. Delete and fast-forward — we’re moving on.”
It’s not every day you get to chat up an original Outlaw. As an ex-music critic of a dozen-plus years, I have so many songwriting questions for Nelson — some of which had been contributed by readers and friends on social media earlier that day. But as a cannabis journalist, I’m now more interested in understanding Nelson’s longstanding, complex relationship with pot, especially given his unofficial role as Weed Ambassador to the World.
Still, I can’t help but start with the music. Do any of the songs he plays still make him misty-eyed?
“I could name a hundred. ‘Today I Started Loving You Again’ is a great song,” Nelson says of the oft-covered Merle Haggard tune. ” ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,’ Hank Williams. A fantastic song. I still love hearing those songs, and I still get emotional for some of those songs.”
Was he speaking literally when he wrote the hit “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die”?
“Literally,” Nelson says, pausing for effect, “I don’t give a damn. It was just a funny thing to say.”
Does weed help with his creative process?
“It has a lot to do with calming the nerves,” he says, “which makes the creative juices flow a little easier.”
Eventually I give in to my impulses and ask Nelson about his personal cannabis history, including his first time smoking marijuana.
“I think I was probably 19 or 20 years old playing in bars in Fort Worth, and I ran into a guy who smoked pot and I’d never smoked it before,” he says. “I smoked (weed) for a long time without getting high — for months I would smoke and smoke and I wasn’t getting high, and I couldn’t figure out why. And then one day I did and I said, ‘Oh OK, that’s what it’s all about.’ But I guess I’d smoked so much other stuff, cigarettes and things, that my lungs weren’t in great shape.”
When Nelson gets stoned, it’s not recreational use, he says: “It’s medicine, and it’s already been proven to be medicine. End of story.” Cannabis cures what ails him, Nelson tells me, and it also keeps him from getting into the trouble he used to get into with beer and whiskey and cigarettes.
“I had emphysema, had all kinds of different health problems caused by drinking and smoking,” he says. “So I decided I wasn’t getting high from smoking cigarettes, and I had a pack of Chesterfields, so I took them all out, threw them away, rolled up 20 big, fat numbers, stuck them into the Chesterfield pack and I haven’t smoked a cigarette since. And that’s been 30, 40 years ago.”
While Nelson will occasionally have a sip of wine, he’s mostly given up drinking: “I’m not afraid to take a drink of anything, but I just don’t get a thrill from it. I don’t need it.” And even though he still enjoys the act of combustion, putting fire to flower, he also considers himself “my own voice doctor” and says vaporizing is healthier than smoking.
“I’m sure lighting up a joint is not that easy on your lungs,” Nelson says. “A singer has to think about stuff like that. Smoking a joint in paper is not as good for your lungs as it is doing it in a vaporizer. It’s a no-brainer, really.”
Nelson calls cannabis-infused edibles “different — it’s more of a body stone, I guess. It took me a little while to acclimate to it. I wasn’t sure of it to begin with, but now it depends on what you want to do. If you wanna go to sleep, eat a piece of candy and you’ll doze off.”
An anachronistic view of cannabis
As you’d imagine, the singer-songwriter seems to have an endless supply of compelling stories that revolve around this still-controversial plant. The only time he’s grown pot from seed to harvest was decades ago when he lived in Nashville writing songs between tours. He smiles when he talks about cutting “It’s All Going to Pot” with his pal Haggard. And on one of his many early-career tours he recalls being broke down on the side of a road in Kansas and coming across a towering patch of what he thought was cannabis growing down by the railroad tracks.
“We cut down a tree of it and put it in the back, and we thought we were really gonna have some fun,” Nelson says. “But we got back to the hotel and cut it up and started smoking that damn stuff, and there wasn’t nothin’ to it. It was nothing but hemp, which is a different deal there. You don’t get high smoking hemp, you just get sore lungs. So we had a big laugh on ourselves.”
Nelson, who lives in 420-unfriendly Texas, doesn’t remember the first time he was arrested on weed-related charges: “I’ve been pulled over many times and busted many times, but I don’t really remember the first one, it was so long ago.”
He does remember being lied to about marijuana, a substance that is ays. “I think we knew more than what most people gave us credit for knowing. We knew were supposed to be bad people because we smoked marijuana, but we knew we weren’t bad people. So we knew somewhere in there was a discrepancy that people had to realize that, ‘Wait a minute: It don’t make him a bad guy just ’cause he smokes weed.’ ”
But what surprises him the most about the world’s recent shift toward decriminalization and legalization?
“I’m still surprised it took this long for educated people to get a little sense,” Nelson says. “We’ve had so many negative things thrown at us about what it does to you and the bad things that marijuana can do to you. And ‘Reefer Madness,’ I don’t know if you remember that movie or not, but it was horrible and it made people really scared. And fear is a hard thing to overcome, so all that had to be overcome. Now when people smoke or eat a piece of candy they realize that, ‘Wait a minute. What’s the big deal?’ ”
When talking more about the War on Drugs’ negative consequences, Nelson unknowingly echoes the data in a Gallup poll released earlier that day showing that 60 percent of Americans want cannabis to be legal — an all-time high in nearly 50 years of polling on the question.
“Most of us have (overcome the fear),” he says. “Not everybody. I don’t think we ever will be 100 percent for it. We’re not really 100 percent for anything. There are always a few stragglers over there who can’t really understand it.”
The conversation steers toward the presence of dry counties in the American South that still disallow alcohol sales, and I take the opportunity to get Nelson’s take on the legalization movement in Arkansas, where the Bible Belt state will vote on two potentially historic medical marijuana initiatives on Election Day (although one of the measures was disqualified in a court ruling Oct. 27).
“Well, it’s in the Bible,” Nelson says flatly. “Ezekiel 34:29, where Jesus is talking about seeds and he said, ‘I bring you a seed of renown for the miseries of humanity.’ ”
My time with Nelson is almost up. We’ve covered a lot of ground, and the election talk leads again to national politics when he offers up an anecdote that perfectly encapsulates Nelson’s open-armed philosophy to weed, to music, to life.
“Somebody asked me the other day if I’d smoke a joint with Donald Trump,” Nelson said, almost as if he was setting up a punchline — only he wasn’t. “I said, ‘I’ll smoke a joint with anybody.’
“I would. I don’t care.
by: Craig Sailor
A Shelton- and Tacoma-based pot business is now growing marijuana for Willie’s Reserve, the brand launched by country music star and cannabis connoisseur Willie Nelson.
It’s another major twist in the South Sound company’s story, which was run out of one county only to be embraced by another.
Brothers Taylor and Garrett Balduff are the owners of the cannabis operation called Forbidden Farms. They grow their cannabis in Mason County, near Shelton, and process it on Tacoma’s Tideflats.
“To get an endorsement from an American icon is pretty awesome,” Taylor said.
The brothers smoked some of their Maui Wowie strain with Nelson backstage July 23 at his Marymoor Park concert.
“He was a fan,” Taylor said. “He liked it most definitely.”
Nelson is selling his brand, to which the Balduff brothers are contributors, in various Washington pot shops. Forbidden Farms is one of three in Washington listed as growers for Willie’s Reserve.
To get Nelson’s approval, an inspection team visited the farm in early 2016.
“They were absolutely blown away with what we were doing,” Taylor said. The team was impressed with the natural light the brothers use to grow their cannabis while still maintaining top quality.
Taylor, 32, manages the processing operation. Garrett, 35, manages the farm. They employ 18 workers. Both brothers and employees switch between the two sites as needed.
“It’s the new American Dream,” Garrett said. “Working together, owning our own business. It’s a new industry, and we were able to get our foot in the door.”
The Balduffs grew up in Bonney Lake and Buckley. Taylor worked in property management while arrett worked in home remodeling. Both dabbled with collective marijuana gardens before taking on cannabis full time.
It wasn’t easy getting off the ground.
Almost a year after Initiative 502 passed in November 2012, the brothers found a site in rural Lewis County. They sold personal assets and cashed out 401(k)s to start their business.
Support making of “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed” and you may win a guitar autographed by Willie NelsonSunday, October 2nd, 2016
Willie Nelson once saved his guitar from a burning building and they have spent a lifetime traveling the world together. Willie and “Trigger” have a love story for the ages. They hope a MARY JANES’s supporter can start a friendship like that with their own Willie’sReserve guitar signed by the legend himself. The Fender Guitar (with acoustic pack) signed by Willie Nelson, along with a Willie’s Reserve T-shirt and hat, will be delivered to one lucky winner.
DETAILS ON HOW TO WIN THE GUITAR:https://www.indiegogo.com/
Willie’s Reserve wrote: “Upon the debut of Willie’s Reserve in Colorado and Washington, Willie Nelson told us all, ‘Now that legalization is spreading across the country, there’s a great opportunity to build a company that can help a lot of people.’ Willie’s Reserve has set out to uphold these values, so we are so proud to support the motion picture MARY JANES: THE WOMEN OF WEED. It will take a community working together to create an industry where women are duly respected as leaders in marijuana. This film will be a cornerstone in the story and together we will pay tribute to a tradition of sharing, caring, and toking.”
Video produced by Green Mile Pictures, in association with Rise Above Social Strategies. Promotional consideration provided by Willie’s Reserve. Music by bensound.com
Special Thanks to: Wendy Mosher, Natalie Simone,Lauren Gibbs, and Diego Rodriguez.
Micah Nelson is the son of the notorious celebrity who is an advocate for cannabis and industrial hemp, Willie Nelson. Micah is following in his father’s footsteps in advocating for industrial hemp, as he has just been named as one of the Board of Directors for National Hemp Association.
Last weekend, the acclaimed musician, Micah, entertained fans at the Farm Aid 2016 last weekend by playing a hemp guitar. Micah is the founder of a band called Insects Vs Robots, which has been bringing experimental and boundary-less music to loyal fans since 2008.
Micah’s father, Willie Nelson, has been inducted into the National Agricultural Center Hall of Fame. In a press release from National Hemp Association, the organization’s chair, Michael Bowman, explained the similarities between Micah and his father.
“The passion for social and environmental justice was instilled in Micah,” Bowman said. “It is part of who he is. We could not be more excited to welcome him to our board. Like his father before him, Micah has a powerful passion for advocacy.”
Micah is already well-known for his advocacy toward industrial hemp legalization, which makes him a strong addition to the National Hemp Association’s Board of Directors. In a change.org petition, Micah has gathered over 50,000 signatures petitioning congress to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act. The petition is called “Allow American Farmers to Grow Industrial Hemp.”
In this petition, Micah wrote, “In 1985, my dad, Willie Nelson, helped organize Farm Aid, a benefit concert for America’s family farmers. He’s always been dedicated to helping farmers and the environment—something he’s passed on to his children.” He continued to explain that not allowing American farmers to grow hemp is one of the most important issues in the United States.
Micah continued to explain how important it will be to allow American farmers to grow and sell hemp, which is an extremely useful, sustainable and economically vital plant that will help rural communities and to rebuild depleted soil.