One of the world’s most legendary weed smokers is finally saying adios to joints.
During an interview with San Antonio’s KSAT TV station, Willie Nelson, 86, said he quit smoking weed, which left him with serious breathing issues during his latest tour. That’s quite a profound statement from one of the most vocal pot advocates in the entire entertainment landscape.
“I have abused my lungs quite a bit in the past, so breathing is a little more difficult these days, and I have to be careful,” Nelson said.
The Red Headed Stranger also noted that his gateway drug wasn’t weed. He said the first thing he ever smoked was, oddly enough, cedar bark. From cedar bark, he started puffing on tobacco, then marijuana. After contracting pneumonia several times and suffering a collapsed lung, he realized he had to give up one of his favorite pastimes.
During a previous Rolling Stone interview, Nelson recalled the moment he kicked tobacco: “I almost died, so I said, ‘Wait a minute, I ain’t getting that high off of Chesterfields,’ so I threw out the cigarettes, rolled up 20 joints, stuck it in there, and I haven’t had a cigarette since.”
In the same Rolling Stone interview, Nelson said that weed “saved my life” and kept him “from killing people,” as he used to be a heavy drinker and nasty drunk before switching to the sweet leaf.
Scientists don’t know much about how cannabis smoke affects the lungs. One 2012 study found that smoking weed a few times a week had no effect on lung health, but toking joints all day, every day for decades could have a detrimental impact on respiratory function.
Nelson isn’t alone as an OG cannabis activist who quit smoking. In a recent piece penned for MERRY JANE, renowned cannabis cultivator Nikki Lastreto detailed how breathing issues forced her to resort solely to vaporizing flower samples while judging the impending Emerald Cup — a first in the competition’s history.
So, just breathe, and feel free to shed a tear or two that you may never get a chance to smoke Willie under the table now (as if!). And while Nelson has committed himself to not going out in a blaze of glory, he hasn’t abandoned Mary Jane altogether. The star and pot icon is getting his THC through edibles these days, and he’s particularly fond of his wife’s infused chocolates.
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