When It Comes To MJ, Willie’s Punishment Vaporizes
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When It Comes To MJ, Willie’s Punishment Vaporizes
Posted by CN Staff on April 05, 2011 at 06:44:20 PT
By Joe Nick Patoski 
Source: New York Times
USA -- What is it about Willie Nelson, weed and the law? It’s been a question worth asking since at least 1971, when Mr. Nelson brought together rednecks and hippies at the Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin with his unique style of country music and his open attitude about marijuana. His eldest daughter, Lana, and his former wife Connie said pot helped tamp down the rage; he had been a mean drunk when alcohol was his drug of choice.
Mr. Nelson, 77, is perhaps America’s best-known marijuana smoker. He is co-chairman of the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has been a High Times cover boy and famously smoked a joint on the roof of the White House when Jimmy Carter was president. His disciples include the actor Woody Harrelson and the country crooner Ray Price, his former employer — each known to have enjoyed a puff now and then. He is the inspiration for Toby Keith’s hit song “(I’ll Never Smoke) Weed With Willie (Again),” which testifies to the quality of Mr. Nelson’s stash. All that is part of Mr. Nelson’s folklore. It’s when he tangles with law enforcement that things get interesting, though not necessarily all that punitive. Take his most recent bust. On Nov. 26, Border Patrol agents at the eastbound Interstate 10 immigration checkpoint just west of the far West Texas town of Sierra Blanca arrested Mr. Nelson inside his touring bus, Honeysuckle Rose, after drug-sniffing dogs and the agents’ own olfactory acumen gave them reason to search. Six and one-quarter ounces of high-grade, domestically grown marijuana were discovered. Mr. Nelson was arraigned on a misdemeanor charge, posted a $2,500 bond and went on his way. Afterward, he announced he was forming a new political party, the Teapot Party. Last week, C. R. (Kit) Bramblett, the Hudspeth County attorney, announced that Mr. Nelson was going to have his day in court, telling The Big Bend Sentinel, “I’m gonna let him plead, pay a small fine and he’s gotta sing ‘Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain’ with his guitar in the courtroom.” Mr. Bramblett added, “I ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson.” This week, Becky Dean-Walker, the Hudspeth County judge, said Mr. Bramblett was joking; Mr. Nelson could dispense with the matter by mail. Misdemeanor possession cases from the Sierra Blanca checkpoint are typically settled with a plea, a $100 fine and $278 in court costs. We’ve heard this song before. In the wee hours of May 10, 1994, two highway patrolmen found Mr. Nelson sleeping in the back seat of his Mercedes, parked on the southbound frontage road of Interstate 35 south of Waco, near the town of Hewitt. He had been involved in a late-night poker game in nearby Hillsboro and got tired driving back to Austin, so he pulled over to take a nap. After he admitted to the highway patrolmen that the hand-rolled cigarette in the ashtray contained marijuana and belonged to him, as did a Baggie stashed under the driver’s seat, he was arrested. He lawyered up and canceled an appearance at the Grammys so he could be in court. Before his trial, one of the patrolmen who arrested him was fired on an unrelated charge of sexual harassment and left town. Mr. Nelson was found not guilty by a McLennan County judge. On Sept. 18, 2006, Mr. Nelson, his bus drivers, his road manager and his older sister Bobbi were arrested at a commercial vehicle inspection station on westbound Interstate 10 in St. Martin Parish, La., while traveling from Alabama to Austin to attend the funeral of Ann Richards, the former Texas governor. Authorities found one and a half pounds of marijuana and one-eighth of a pound of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Mr. Nelson said the dope belonged to him and was for his personal use. Seven months later, he canceled concert dates and had his bus drivers take him from California back to Louisiana for his court date. He was fined $1,024 and given six months’ probation. Mr. Nelson is not the voracious viper he once was. A collapsed lung persuaded him to switch from joints to a carbon-free vapor delivery system three years ago. But he does not lack for the substance when he wants it. Every grower worth his product wants the stamp of approval from Mr. Nelson, since “Willie weed” is considered the gold standard by which all marijuana is judged. By making a joke of possession and enforcement laws, Mr. Nelson has done more to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of marijuana prohibition than a hundred lobbyists or a thousand politicians could ever do. Is he bulletproof? Above the law? Too hot to handle or incarcerate? No. But he is Willie Nelson. If you’re a law enforcement person, it pays to know that before you start investigating that funny smell emanating from Honeysuckle Rose. Joe Nick Patoski is the author of “Willie Nelson: An Epic Life.”A version of this article appeared in print on April 3, 2011, on page A25A of the National edition.Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Joe Nick Patoski Published: April 3, 2011Copyright: 2011 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #5 posted by Had Enough on April 08, 2011 at 13:35:55 PT
Why we Never Get an Answer
Thanks ekim…as said before…excellent find…I too have found myself pushed out the door for questioning the wrongs that people do to others…many times I have seen people fired from their jobs just because someone pointed out that something isn’t right. Myself included.Comments to me have been…Why do you care…you still have your paycheck…Don’t speak out or you will get run off just like he did…You need to be more concerned about yourself than what happened over there…and one of my all time favorites…You need to play ball…Well I have always spoke out…for the most part…and paid the price monetarily…but the reward I received for my spirit far outweighed any monetary price…as in priceless.One thing about the truth…You can twist it, color it, hide it, bury it, …But it will always be there, and will always eventually pop up again to reveal itself.Universer …excellent response…and I doubt you will ever be run off from here….:)************Moody Blues - Question - Royal Albert Hall
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on April 08, 2011 at 12:42:47 PT
I Just Love Willie
Here is a really cute video.Toby Keith - Beer For My Horses (with Willie Nelson)
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on April 06, 2011 at 17:26:49 PT
Bryan Gonzalez
What happened to him is why most of LEAP is "Retired".
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Comment #2 posted by Universer on April 05, 2011 at 18:55:49 PT
Good Find
Thanks for the link, Ekim. Will download and listen. "The Story" with Dick Gordon (produced in good ol' liberal Chapel Hill) is generally a good NPR/APM listen anyway.Just to state the entirely obvious to those of us on the community, we all know darn well why Mr. Gonzalez was ignominiously fired.Many people receive many paychecks (many of those quite healthy) because of Prohibition. And it's darn hard to get a man to think some way when his paycheck depends upon him not thinking that way.He threatened their paychecks (while honorably questioning the validity of his own). And, to carry the metaphor, he's paid the proverbial price.But I should listen before I opine more. (Lest I get fired from CNews. ;-) )
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Comment #1 posted by ekim on April 05, 2011 at 10:26:11 PT
He's still not sure why he lost his job
Bryan Gonzalez is a former New Mexico border patrol agent. He often spoke with the migrants he caught trying to cross the border, and often heard stories of people trying to escape the violence surrounding the drug trade. He began to learn more about the issues of drugs, and when he began to voice his thoughts on the subject, he was fired. Bryan joins Dick Gordon to talk about his experiences on the border. He's still not sure why he lost his job
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