“Hey hey, my my” is a Neil Young song, but by all indications, it is Willie Nelson who will never die.
Nelson will turn 86 years old in April, but he has years ago eased into a sort of timelessness. The Texas-living godfather of outlaw country still tours constantly, still finds time to engage in politics, and still smokes copious amounts of cannabis. The sun rises, the sun sets, and the Willie Nelson tour bus heads to the next town, a trail of terpene-scented smoke in its wake.
He is a country and popular music icon–he’s been recording and touring since the 1950s, but Willie Nelson is also a very real and very effective positive role model for marijuana use. Here is an enormously successful celebrity, from a not very progressive state, in what should be the twilight of his years, who still looks and sounds pretty good and appears to be in reasonably good health, who smokes weed constantly.
This is no accident. At least some of this longevity he attributes directly marijuana. (Since Nelson credits weed for helping him quit smoking cigarettes, even the most skeptical pro-prohibition doctor may find it hard to dispute that). Willie Nelson is a strong argument that all the Reefer Madness tropes that survive in our society are completely untrue. When (not if, friends, but when) Texas legalizes marijuana and elects a progressive to statewide office, maybe on the same day, Willie Nelson will have played a key role.
And, yes, fine, he is a stoner icon. Willie Nelson smokes weed just about everywhere and with everyone. He has out-smoked Snoop Dogg and apparently got stoned on the roof of the White House. Look: Willie Nelson might not exist without marijuana. And without Willie Nelson, marijuana culture would be very different.
This is all to say that when Willie Nelson shows up at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, California on Sunday, Dec. 16, to receive an “honorary award” at the Emerald Cup, it will be only right, fitting and proper. And when all future honorees at the Emerald Cup receive an award, they will be handed the rechristened “Willie Nelson Award.” That, too, feels appropriate.
“We have a great deal of respect and admiration for Willie, who is graciously allowing the cup to honor future individuals with an award that will remain in his name,” said longtime Emerald Triangle cannabis cultivator and icon Tim Blake, who founded the Emerald Cup with some friends 15 years ago and has built it into arguably the biggest and most prestigious marijuana-awards show/product exposition on the growing marijuana-show circuit. “An unwavering ability to stand true in his beliefs and refusal to accept society’s rigid set of rules are only part of what makes Willie the perfect individual to be recognized as a hero to the cannabis world.”
This also marks a transition for the Emerald Cup’s award. Past honorees have generally come strictly from the marijuana world, like hemp advocate Jack Herer or medical-marijuana pioneer Dennis Peron. Skeptics or rude cynics might sniff and wonder if the addition of Willie to these ranks doesn’t represent a bend towards commercialism, as he has lent his image and acumen to two recreational marijuana brands. Maybe? The point is that marijuana legalization is an easier sell in red states, and some of the credit is due to Willie Nelson.
TELL US, are you a Willie Nelson fan?