in a 2014 interview on Larry King Now, Willie Nelson talked about his life and devotion to marijuana inside his tour bus before a show at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. King passed away from Covid-19 on Jan. 23, 2021. He was 87.
Here are some highlights from the interview:
KIng: There's a Pew Research poll released today that says three out of four Americans favor the full legalization of marijuana. Did you ever think that would happen?
Willie: No, not in our time. I thought maybe eventually it would when people wised up and started looking at it right. Plus, realizing that there's some money there somebody isn't making. The criminals are making it.
King: What got you started smoking marijuana?
Nelson: I started out when I was kid smoking anything I could get - corn silk, cedar bark, then we started rolling up Bull Durham. But then my lungs gave out on me. I had emphysema. My lungs collapsed. Pneumonia four or five times. So I quit smoking tobacco. Since then I've been pretty healthy.
King: Marijuana does not effect the lungs the way tobacco does?
Nelson: Not the way tobacco does. I've lost a lot of members of my family to tobacco - my mother, my dad, my step-mother - a lot of people that smoked and died. So I know that marijuana is not that bad.
King: Did you sense there were health benefits to it?
Nelson: Yeah. I felt better. I felt more relaxed. I think stress is the biggest killer we've got, so if you can relax you'll be healthier.
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King: You never get uptight when you're on marijuana?
Nelson: Not necessarily. Unless you get a little paranoid sometimes - some people do when they smoke a little too strong.
KIng: Do you smoke every day?
Nelson: I don't think I've missed a day in years.
King: So it's a habit.
Nelson: I think it's a good habit for me. I don't recommend it for anybody, but for me it seems to help me.
King: Will you ever retire?
Nelson: I don't think so. I enjoy playing music, I enjoy the crowds, I enjoy traveling, I enjoy the bus. I don't know that I'd ever want to quit.
King: How does your energy keep up?
Nelson: I get a lot of energy playing music. I think it's the best exercise that you can get to get out there and sing for an hour and a half or two hours using your lungs. I think that's why people travel so many miles to come see you because they do the same thing. They applaud and sing along with you. I think it's healthy. There's a great energy exchange out there.
King: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you bring with you?
Nelson: Well, I'd bring my guitar and I'd bring my girlfriend and I'd roll me up a fatty just in case.
This article was originally posted on Apr. 11, 2014. It was updatd on Jan. 23, 2021.