Is this even news? Willie Nelson with marijuana? Possibly the least shocking story of 2006. The only part of the story that could be considered surprising is the fact that he was able to fit all of his pot on to one bus. The arrest happened to Willie and four others in Louisiana while en route to play a tribute show for what would have been Hank Williams' 85th birthday. The BioWillie-fueled tour bus was pulled over and subsequently investigated after the officer said he "noticed the strong odor of marijuana" when talking to the driver.
So I guess the only surprising thing about this whole ordeal is, well, that the arrest happened at all. It's not like anyone who had ever heard of Willie Nelson didn't know that he dabbled in a bit of drugs here and there. Look at the signs. For me, it was somewhere between watching him host the first annual NORML golf tournament in 2005 (an organization for which he serves on the board) and seeing giant marijuana leaf on the cover of his 2005 album Countryman that I first had my suspicions. "Perhaps this guy smokes pot every once in a while," I think is what I said to myself. For others it might have been the article about him in High Times or the popular legend that he once smoked on the roof of the White House during the Carter years. To each their own.
Furthermore, I am (like Willie) a native resident of Texas, and I can all but guarantee you that this shit would never have gone down in our home state. It's a peculiar situation: the better portion of the state is made up of people who hate long-haired men, hate liberals, hate environmentalists, and above all, hate hippies. But for whatever reason, these fuckers are crazy about Willie Nelson. The man is a legend. Our neighbors to the east, apparently, are not as sympathetic. Maybe they would have been more pleased had they ran into New Orleans native Lil' Romeo? Thankfully, Willie did manage to get off without felony charges, as he and his crew (average age: 62) claimed that all of the over-one-and-a-half-pounds of pot and three ounces of mushrooms was for personal use, and not to be sold.
I guess the question I've been trying to ask in this article is, "why now?" Nelson, now 73, has been an avid drug enthusiast for decades, and during that time has made little-to-no effort to conceal it. To me, the idea of a Willie forced to live out his golden years drug-free is on par with telling Harry Potter to go the rest of his Hogwarts career without any cocaine (just wait for book seven). All we can do is hope that, for the common good, neither of these situations actually take place. But personally, I'm not worried; I have confidence that the U.S. legal system will do its job, and Willie will be able to use his celebrity status to return to his old ways after just a few hours of community service.