“That story about Willie smoking on the roof of the White House with Jimmy Carter,” pauses Ray Benson, “that’s all true.” In light of Nelson's recent bust and inspired by Andy Langer's Esquire article, OTR polled some notable locals about their most memorable high times with the Red Headed Stranger.
First things first. 7 Walkers' Matt Hubbard shared his unreleased “Weedaholic,” a smoky country-jazz joint that should be the official anthem of the newly formed Teapot Party, featuring Nelson on background vocals and guitar.
Joe Nick Patoski, author of the essential Willie Nelson: An Epic Life
“I used to kid Willie that he used marijuana around journalists to make them so stupid, they wouldn't know what to ask. I have had the privilege and pleasure to enjoy some high quality smoke around Mr. Nelson. When I was working on the biography, Willie invited me on board the bus in San Francisco one night in San Francisco, and we wound up in Santa Rosa in Sonoma County where I spent an offday with him. Each round of interviews concluded at my own behest because I was so stoned I forgot what I asked him, forgot what he said, and couldn't remember a followup question. He smoked me under the table.
"At the end of the second round, he rolled one for me to take on the road, but I was so wiped out, I didn't bother to fire it up until the next day, when I had to drive my rent car to San Jose. I burned it down somewhere in Sonoma County before I got on the Richmond Bridge. I had no clue how I really was until the car started climbing up the span. All of a sudden, my hands get sweaty, I got tunnel vision, and my head started spinning. All I could do to keep it together was focus on the car directly in front of me and concentrate on driving straight ahead and not swerving or freaking out.
"I made it off the bridge and to the airport on time, although I don't remember a damn thing about the rest of the drive or the flight home. Getting the flop sweats on the bridge was a new one on me. That had never happened before. A few days later, I was relating this story to Connie, Willie's ex-wife, telling her I had gotten a case of acrophobia or claustrophobia or worse, gephyrophobia - fear of bridges. Connie set me straight: 'No, no, dear one,'she explained. 'It was Willie's weed.' Knowing what I know, she was right. After all, there is no better bud than whatever Willie Nelson is smoking. I can't wait to test the theory out again."
Some additional comments from Ray Benson:
“This wasn’t civil disobedience. … He’s a victim of a witch hunt by local authorities. They profile basically. We know it’s happening because it’s happened to us. Willie’s taken such a public stance that he’s been targeted more. I’m sure they wanted pictures with him and to tell their buddies they busted Willie. Did you see the Sheriff's comments? Unbelievable. That makes a lot of sense to put Willie Nelson in jail for six months. It costs the taxpayers money and takes him out of earning millions of dollars he pays taxes on. Right there on the border where there’s cartels killing people and tons of marijuana being shipped through secret tunnels, they want to pick on casual users and especially Willie."
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