Willie Nelson: Without Weed, ‘I Wouldn’t Be Alive’
It's no secret that Willie Nelson is an avid and longtime marijuana enthusiast, but according to a new interview for Rolling Stone's weed issue, pot is more than just a fun habit for the iconic country star: In fact, he owes his life to it.
"I wouldn't be alive. It saved my life, really. I wouldn't have lived 85 years if I'd kept drinking and smoking like I was when I was 30, 40 years old," he tells the magazine of his relationship with pot. "I think that weed kept me from wanting to kill people. And probably kept a lot of people from wanting to kill me, too -- out there drunk, running around."
The country legend gave up cigarettes and whiskey in 1978, and, as he recalls, weed played a big role in helping him give up those more harmful vices. "I had a pack of 20 Chesterfields, and I threw 'em away and rolled up 20 fat joints, stuck 'em in there," he continues. "I haven't smoked a cigarette since. I haven't drank that much, either, because one will make me want the other -- I smoke a cigarette, I wanna drink a whiskey. Drink a whiskey, want a cigarette. That's me. I can't speak for nobody else."
Nelson is such a passionate believer in the positive effects of cannabis that he launched his own line of marijuana and marijuana products, Willie's Reserve, in 2015. At its outset, the company was conceived as an "anti-Walmart" model, hoping to empower independent growers who met the company's product quality standards. Now available in six states, Nelson says that business is "fairly lucrative," though the company has had to the navigate significant red tape that comes along with selling a product still federally prohibited, albeit legal in every state where it is sold.
Dubbed the "CTO: chief tasting officer" of the company, Nelson may have 65 years of experience with the product, but he's still not what you'd call a weed snob: He doesn't seem to have a favorite strain of Willie's Reserve. Elizabeth Hogan, VP of the company, indicates that his most common thoughts on the subject are "I claim 'em all" or "Pot's like sex -- it's all good, some is great."
The singer isn't so meek about expressing his views on the war on drugs and the people who are imprisoned due to marijuana possession, though. Per Rolling Stone, 40% of drug arrests are due to pot, and black people are four times more likely to get arrested for pot than their white counterparts. Nelson himself has been busted for the drug several times, though none of his arrests amounted to much jail time.
"A lot of it is because people get in there who don't even have the bail money to get out," he says. "Let those guys out and start working and paying taxes."
Nelson has been vocal about his belief that marijuana should be legalized in all 50 states, and he's not afraid to get active in politics to help achieve that goal, as well as in support of his opinions on other causes, like immigration.
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