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Cannabis Pioneers #002 – Willie Nelson

Welcome to the next installment of our groundbreaking feature at Hemp Living: the “Cannabis Pioneers” series! We are thrilled to celebrate those visionaries who have shaped the cannabis culture and industry, from legendary figures to emerging talents. Each edition will spotlight a key influencer who shares a profound passion for cannabis, just like us. Dive into our latest issue and join us on this enlightening journey with a redheaded stranger known the world over!


Willie Nelson, the well-known country music star, is famous for his music career and strong support for marijuana. With a very active career spanning decades, Nelson has become an enduring symbol of American music and cannabis culture. Sixty-five years after he smoked his first joint, Willie Nelson is now considered America’s most legendary stoner and a living example of the positive impact of weed. It’s even believed that marijuana may have even saved his life!

Early Beginnings

Willie Hugh Nelson was born in Abbott, TX (pop. 356) during the Great Depression on April 29th, 1933, and grew up in a cultural slice of America that has long been hostile to marijuana use. Willie Nelson’s journey to stardom was marked by his rebellious spirit and a deep connection to the counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Throughout his life, Nelson has been an outspoken advocate for the legalization and responsible use of marijuana, making him a beloved figure among cannabis enthusiasts and activists.

In his new memoir, ‘It’s a Long Story’, Willie paints the picture of his childhood in a little house on the Texas prairie, a place defined by religion, family, farming, and the fading romance of the Old West. “You might say that I was born in the middle of nowhere, but I feel that I was born in the middle of everywhere,” he wrote.

The memoir’s warm affection for traditional small-town culture will be familiar to fans of Willie’s music. For instance, “Family Bible” (1957), the song that first got him noticed as a songwriter’s lyrics read:

“Now, this old world of ours is filled with trouble
This old world would oh so better be

If we found more Bibles on the table
And mothers singing “Rock of ages, cleft for me.”

Daily Life

Nelson is sitting on a couch at his home, a modest cabin overlooking his 700 acres of beautiful Texas Hill Country. He takes a small vaporizer from his sweatshirt and takes a hit before offering it to others. His wife, Annie, reminds him to be careful as he has to sing later that night. Despite turning 90 and having a history of emphysema, Nelson admits to staying high most of the time. His routine involves taking a couple of hits from the vape and enjoying a piece of chocolate an hour or two later. Nelson’s generosity often leads him to share his marijuana with others to make them feel comfortable… Annie recently purchased an expensive version of a gravity bong for Nelson, which allows the user to inhale a large amount of weed in one hit. She explains that it can be filled with ice water to cool the smoke. Despite his habits, Nelson is known for his musical talent and his enduring love for marijuana.

Source: The Rolling Stone – Marijuana Saved My Life” Article – April 2019

Civil Rights, Politics, and Music

The cultural shifts of the 1960s—civil rights, the sexual revolution, and the growth of a semi-political counterculture centered on marijuana—threatened the traditional values of places like Abbott. Willie’s poker buddy Merle Haggard memorably captured the backlash in his 1969 hit “Okie from Muskogee”

“We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee
We don’t take our trips on LSD
We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street

We like livin’ right, and bein’ free
We don’t make a party out of lovin’
We like holdin’ hands and pitchin’ woo
We don’t let our hair grow long and shaggy”

Nelson’s relationship with marijuana has been an integral part of his public persona. He has openly discussed his use of cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes, attributing it to his creative process and overall well-being. Nelson has often been photographed and seen publicly enjoying marijuana, further solidifying his status as an unapologetic advocate for its use.

His Fight for Legalization

Beyond his affinity for marijuana, Willie Nelson has actively campaigned for the legalization of cannabis, citing its potential medicinal benefits and advocating for the reform of outdated drug laws. His efforts have helped raise awareness and support for the legalization movement, making him a revered figure within the cannabis community. Likewise, though liberals should be happy to have libertarians such as Rep. Simpson (who helped organize a fundraiser for Ron Paul in 2008) as bedfellows on this issue, we should also support public health regulation of marijuana that goes far beyond that accorded to tomatoes and jalapeños.


Why Celebrate Willie?

In addition to his advocacy work, Willie Nelson has also ventured into the business side of marijuana. In 2015, he launched Willie’s Reserve, a cannabis brand that offers a range of marijuana products, including flower, edibles, and accessories. Through this venture, Nelson has combined his passion for marijuana with his entrepreneurial spirit, further cementing his place as a central figure in the cannabis industry.

At 90, Willie Nelson remains an influential and beloved figure in the music industry and the cannabis community. His unyielding support for marijuana legalization and his public embrace of cannabis have made him an enduring icon for those who share his passion for the plant.

Willie Nelson’s remarkable career and his unwavering advocacy for marijuana have made him a cherished figure among music fans and cannabis enthusiasts alike. His impact on both industries is undeniable, and his legacy as a cultural icon will continue to inspire future generations.

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