Willie Nelson is well-known these days as an avid marijuana supporter who recently created up his own weed brand, Willie’s Reserve. Yet, the country-singing superstar wasn’t always so bold about his love for weed. In fact, a 1936 film about it even scared him, according to his new memoir, It’s a Long Story: My Life, written by Nelson and contributor, David Ritz.
Nelson’s first legal troubles with marijuana began in 1977 when he was arrested in the Bahamas for possession. Although he was released with the condition that he never return to the island, Nelson had no intentions of quitting his love of smoking, which started when was just a child.
“As a kid, I’d sneak off and smoke anything that burned… The various substances have changed over the years, but the act itself has never ceased to satisfy me.”
However, it wasn’t marijuana that Nelson lit up as kid in Abbott, Texas, but tobacco. The singer admits that that 1936 film Reefer Madness definitely did what it set out to do by scaring a young Nelson so much that he avoided weed for a long time.
“I was a hick from Abbott. I’d seen [the marijuana scare film] ‘Reefer Madness,’ and I was a little worried that a little pot might get me crazy. Wasn’t I crazy enough?”
Instead, Nelson turned to booze. Yet, he quickly learned that alcohol made him want to fight, something he clearly wasn’t good at while drinking.
“More often than not I got the s**t kicked out of me. Booze did nothing to improve my dexterity or my judgment in provoking an opponent.”
During the 1970s, after a failed marriage and a distaste for getting beat up while drinking booze, Nelson found his first love: marijuana. He even ditched tobacco, although he’d been smoking cigarettes since he was 6-years-old.
“My love affair with pot became a long-term marriage. It was, by far, the smoothest of all my marriages.”
His passion for marijuana has also reconnected Nelson with long-time friend Merle Haggard. The duo, who had a hit single with 1983’s “Pancho and Lefty,” collaborated again for the upcoming album, Django and Jimmie, slated for release on June 2. Their first single is fittingly named, “It’s All Going to Pot.”
Fans can read more about Willie Nelson and his early life once his memoir releases on May 5. Along with his journey of finding his life-long enjoyment of marijuana, the singer opens up about his early days in the small town of Abbott, his failed marriages, and his tumultuous beginnings as a struggling songwriter.