The movie “Almost Famous,” about a fledgling rock critic on tour with a band in the 1970s, has a scene where a roadie takes out a joint to share. “I know this is good,” he says. “It’s from Crosby.”
Catching up with 77-year-old David Crosby in Monterey, California on his current nationwide tour, I asked him how, of all the rock-and-roll stoners of his day, he became known as the guy with the best weed.
“I was the first one of the musicians I knew in LA to connect up with sinsemilla, out of Mexico,” Crosby replied as his still-impish eyes twinkled. “Someone down there knew if you removed the males, you get much stronger pot. And it was a revolution, because we had crap pot up until then. I had it before anyone else had it, so I…. acquired a reputation.”
Crosby is now putting his reputation on the line, both by establishing an international brand of cannabis called “The Mighty Croz” and by joining the advisory board of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Croz, whose singing is as strong and beautiful as ever, lent his voice to robocalls and ads in the recent effort to legalize recreational pot in North Dakota.
Crosby began his musical career with The Byrds in 1964 and formed the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash in 1968. Joined later (at times) by Neil Young, the group was wildly successful and also politically outspoken. In 1982, Crosby was convicted of possessing heroin and cocaine, plus weapons charges, that put him in a Texas prison for nine months. He later went sober and published two autobiographies, as well as writing “Stand and Be Counted” (Harper San Francisco, 2000), documenting his participation in many of the landmark events of the 1960s and beyond.
He writes in that book, “I still believe we were right about acid and we were right about pot. They did blow us loose from the past and they did give us a new perspective, a way of setting ourselves apart from the rest of straight society… Unfortunately, marijuana was illegal and you had to go to illegal people to get it. Those people would then hand you a gram of cocaine and say, ‘If you think that’s fun, try this.’”
I asked Crosby how he came back to using cannabis.
“I did fourteen and a half years absolutely sober,” he said. “When you’re addicted to something — alcohol, cigarettes, heroin, cocaine — when you quit you have slip dreams. You wake up thinking that you’re doing that awful thing again. When those dreams stop, then it’s no longer snapping against your heels. And after a few years of feeling no pressure at all, I realized I probably could smoke pot again.”
“I don’t smoke it in the daytime,” Crosby continued. “In particular I don’t use it before I play; I do it after. I have a lot more fun if I do it before I play, but I think I do better if I work straight and get loaded afterwards.”
For him, cannabis is best combined with songwriting.
“What I do every night, after dinner with my family, I go into the bedroom and I build a fire,” Crosby said. “And then I vape some buds and take a guitar off the wall and play. Stoned. And it’s just the right thing for guitar: you get hung up and you play until your fingers hurt. I do that all the time. That’s how I write music.”
And what was his motivation for joining the NORML board?
“Laws against marijuana should change because it’s correct to change them,” Crosby said. “It’s an innocent substance and it does no harm at all. We drive slow and eat ice cream, that’s our big crime. We don’t rob stores, we don’t go out and rape and pillage. I’ve been in prison, I know what it’s like. And to be in there because you smoked or sold some flowers, it’s a travesty.”
Crosby predicted that in the coming years arrests for marijuana will slow.
“I don’t think you’re going to see people going to jail for pot for anything,” he said. “What’s going to define the situation are the numbers. The states are looking at marijuana as a huge state-controlled tax income. They have money for schools, roads and hospitals — lots of it. Game over! It’s going to be legal everywhere. Michigan just went for it. The money will decide it.”
When it comes to his own cannabis business, Crosby’s business partner Steven Sponder, co-founder of The Mighty Croz brand, said they are still searching for partnerships.
“We are being very selective about who we decide to partner with, and we expect to make a decision in the next few months,” Sponder said. “Quality and the ability to serve David’s fans in various states and countries is essential.”
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