Home Culture The Life of Willie Nelson is a History of Marijuana

The Life of Willie Nelson is a History of Marijuana


A lengthy profile of Willie Nelson was recently published by Rolling Stone and, more than just a profile of his life as a famous singer/songwriter, it’s an in-depth look at Willie’s 65-year relationship with Mary Jane.

When Willie first tried marijuana in 1954, the vast majority of people in the U.S. had no idea what it was. If they did know something about it, it was probably something along the lines of it being a noxious weed that leads to insanity and incredible violence. Oh, and it made minorities uppity.

This was long before the late 1960s would make marijuana use synonymous with the hippie culture. “It’s nice to watch it being accepted – knowing you were right all the time about it: that it was not a killer drug,” Willie told Rolling Stone. “It’s a medicine.”

In the late 70s Willie gave up whiskey and cigarettes. He stuck with marijuana. “I wouldn’t be alive [if not for marijuana];” Willie said. “It saved my life, really. I wouldn’t have lived 85 years if I’d have kept drinking and smoking like I was when I was 30, 40 years old. 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.”

Willie Nelson has seen the height of cannabis prohibition and is now witness to the birth of cannabis legality. His life has spanned the entirety of the marijuana law reform movement. Through decades of propaganda he steadfastly spoke out about marijuana’s benefits. Then, he was just some hippie musician with “out there” ideas. Now, he is rightly recognized as a pioneer and a leader in a movement that is changing the U.S. and the world.

It’s easy to be for marijuana legalization in 2019. It’s easier than ever to speak out without fear of retribution. But movements don’t spring up full-grown; there are those who must come first and say what most will someday come to accept as the truth.

I’m not a fan of clichés, but if they were making a Mount Rushmore of marijuana leaders, there is no way Willie Nelson is not carved into that stone. You can argue about the rest, but in the cannabis community, you’ll find almost unanimous agreement for Willie’s placement on the mountain.

In many ways, Willie’s life with marijuana is a history of marijuana itself. It’s only fitting that he’s here to see the fruition of many of the goals he fought for all his adult life.