Willie Nelson has a few choice words for Reagan-era prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions: “Smoke some pot.”
When asked by Rolling Stone about the downsides of cannabis, the 84-year-old singer songwriter responded, “I haven’t run into any yet. I guess if you go somewhere where it’s illegal, that’s a pretty good downside.”
Born in 1933 amidst the onslaught of Reefer Madness, and having risen to fame in the 60s and 70s, Nelson’s been through different iterations of the Drug War. Sessions’ “Just Say No (to weed)” ethos is all too reminiscent of decades-old scare tactics used by Richard Nixon, father of the War on Drugs, to demonize the plant, along with the hippies and African Americans who used it, while obscuring its medicinal properties.
But, as Nelson recommends, perhaps if Sessions tried the stuff himself, he’d had a different attitude toward weed.
“I wonder if he’s tried both of them,” Nelson said in response to Sessions’ claim that weed is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. “I don’t think you can really make a statement like that unless you tried it all. So I’d like to suggest to Jeff to try it and then let me know later if he thinks he’s still telling the truth.”
Nelson, himself, launched his own weed company, Willie’s Reserve, in 2015. As a longtime supporter of marijuana legalization, Nelson debuted his cannabis line in legal states like Washington and Colorado. “I’ve smoked enough and I want to give back,” Nelson had said. “Now that legalization is spreading across the country, there’s a great opportunity to build a company that can help a lot of people.”
Nelson said he always knew cannabis would be legalized, but never expected it to happen in his own lifetime. “I hope it gives social justice to those who are incarcerated for doing what we’re doing legally,” Nelson had said of his cannabis line. “I am also committed to have our crops farmed in an environmentally responsible way; to revitalize small farms and grow it as clean as possible.”
According to Nelson, you can do more good with music, and apparently with weed, than you can with arguments and politics. While the raison d’être behind his cannabis line seems to be doing right by legalization, he says music on the other brings people together in harmony — especially important now in such a divisive political atmosphere. “When you play a show, there’s an energy exchange with the people that is unimaginable,” Nelson said. “It’s the reason I go out there. I get something out of it, too.”