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Marijuana Music Day 2021 Featuring Willie Nelson

June 28, 2021 in General Education

Willie Nelson is famous for two things; his music and his cannabis use. In celebration of Marijuana Music Day on June 28th, I will be spotlighting the extraordinary singer/songwriter and native Texan, Willie Nelson, who just turned 88 years old. In this article I will explain how cannabis saved his life, discuss his cannabis company, reference his musical career, identify some musical references to cannabis in his songs and give some fun facts about Nelson’s relationship with cannabis.

Early Life

Willie Hugh Nelson was born in Abbott, Texas on April 29, 1933. He was raised by his grandparents during the Great Depression. He wrote his first song at age 7 and joined his first band at age 10. During high school, he appeared locally with Bohemian Polka as their lead singer and guitar player.

Cannabis Saved Willie Nelson’s Life

Willie was a cigarette smoker and whiskey drinker until both habits caught up with him. He had four bouts of pneumonia and the whiskey not only gave him hangovers that took their toll but it made him a mean drunk. Around 1978, he had enough, threw away his full packet of Chesterfields and replaced them with 20 fat joints and never looked back. He hasn’t drunk much alcohol as it makes him want a cigarette and vice versa.

Nelson also used cannabis to counteract the effects of other drugs. He used the amphetamine, Benzedrine, to stay awake which allowed him and his crew to drive several hundred miles between shows. The drug suppressed his appetite and made it hard to sleep. While cannabis restored his appetite and let him sleep, he engaged in an unhealthy and dangerous cycle of drug abuse.

He believes he never would have lived as long as he has if he had continued smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using amphetamines. Cannabis stopped him from wanting to kill people and probably stopped people from wanting to kill him when he was drunk and out of control.

Willie’s Reserve

Willie Nelson cannabis company, Willie’s Reserve, was started in 2015. He sells family farmer-grown flower, edibles, vape cartridges, tinctures and topicals and accessories. His products are available in six states.

Willie’s Remedy Hemp-Infused Coffee, Teas and Chocolates

Nelson was forced to quit smoking cannabis when he was diagnosed with emphysema. His wife Annie found a solution to keeping him happily stoned by creating her own line of products in 2017; Annie’s Edibles. Her first product was a gluten-free, vegan, cannabis-infused dark chocolate with Himalayan salt. When she was developing the products, Willie was her Chief Tasting Officer (CTO). He even had business cards made with his title. The problem was that he kept eating too many chocolates and getting too high, so she had to adjust the recipe to five milligrams per chocolate square.

Nelson says that he is high “pretty much all the time.” According to Annie, his routine starts with a couple of puffs off the vape, often followed by a piece of chocolate an hour or two later. He is also known to drink his hemp-infused coffee. She also bought him an upscale version of a gravity bong.

Despite being famous for his cannabis use, Nelson will be the first to admit that he is, by no means, a cannabis connoisseur. He shrugs his shoulders when asked which of his Willie’s Reserve strains is his favorite.. His famous stash, which he used to keep on his tour bus in a Hopalong Cassidy lunchbox, came from random strains given to him by fans or thrown onto the stage during concerts. He equates cannabis with sex….”it’s all good, some is great.” Annie describes him as a “kind of sativa dude” and explains that he is funny when sober but cannabis “just makes him funnier.”

Willie Nelson’s Musical Career

Nelson is one of the most prolific songwriters of our time. Over the past 60 years, he has authored or co-authored over 330 songs including some of the most iconic songs ever recorded. Here is a link to them. Some of them were made famous by other artists such as “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. Many of his songs have been covered by a myriad of musical artists from several different genres.

Just A Few of Willie Nelson Hits

  • Crazy
  • On the Road Again
  • Georgia On My Mind
  • Pancho and Lefty
  • Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
  • Forgiving You Was Easy

Cannabis References in Willie Nelson Songs

Nelson’s first cannabis reference was in the 1971 song “In A Memory” with the following lyrics:
I’m a love that you know from a song
I’m a voice on a green telephone
I’m a day that lasted so long
The “green telephone” was a cryptic reference to cannabis during a time when country music singers were so secretive about their cannabis use that they hid it from each other for fear of arrest.

Recent Nelson Song – Delete and Fast-Forward

Nelson currently uses the phrase “delete and fast-forward” to describe his life and is the title of one of his most recent songs. It reminds him that he needs to forgive, forget and move on and to stop dwelling on painful memories of the past. He credits cannabis with helping him to “delete and fast-forward.” He views short-term memory loss from cannabis use as a way to keep him from remembering negative things in his past which are better left forgotten.

4 Amusing Anecdotes about Willie Nelson and Cannabis

1. Friend and fellow musician, Fred Lockwood, encouraged Nelson to “blow tea” when they were together in a roadside bar in Fort Worth, TX in 1954. This phrase was used by Harlem jazz musicians in the 1930s to refer to smoking cannabis. The 21 year old Nelson was a big bourbon drinker at the time but had never tried cannabis. He initially turned down the offer but Lockwood handed him a joint which Nelson waited to smoke when he was alone. It was a failure as he did not inhale deeply enough to feel its effects. It took another six months before Nelson got stoned or as he described it “one night I did it right.”

2. For years, Nelson’s cannabis use was treated as a joke by the media, but he always took it seriously. He firmly believed in the plant’s healing powers and that it saved his life. He continues to advocate for the federal legalization of cannabis as co-chair on the advisory board of NORML.

3. In 1980, longtime friend, President Jimmy Carter, invited Nelson to perform at the White House. Nelson shared a joint with Carter’s son, Chip, on the roof of the White House. In the early 1990s, outgoing Texas Governor Ann Richards invited Nelson, author Turk Pipkin and their wives to the Governor’s Mansion for a final dinner. During a tour, Nelson and Pipkin tried to get onto the roof in order to smoke a joint, but Richards was way ahead of him; she had screwed shut the windows that led out to the roof.

4. Nelson smokes everyone under the table, even Snoop Dogg. According to both Willie and Snoop Dogg, the two had a smoke off in Amsterdam in 2008 where Snoop “crawled away.” That just about sums up Wille Nelson!

Sources:, Willie Nelson Weed Issue 826290, Patrick Doyle, April 29, 2019, Willie Nelson Tried To Smoke Weed on the Roof of the Texas Governor’s Mansion, Deborah Sengupta Stith, April 29, 2021, Willie Nelson, List of Songs Written By Willie Nelson

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