Willie Nelson’s cannabis arrest record

August 22, 2023

Anyone alive for the past 2 or more decades is sure to know who Willie Nelson is. Along with that, they most likely know that he is famous for-music and his love of weed. While he has been a huge supporter and advocate for legal cannabis for multiple decades, his path hasn’t always been clean. Throughout his success in the music industry since the late 60s, Willie’s arrest record is almost as big as his collection of awards. He has never let his arrest history affect his love for cannabis and has persevered through it all to show us just that. Moreover, he uses his past as a way to push for legalization. Had there not been such petty laws for cannabis, his record would be clean.

Dallas, Texas-1974

While he may have dabbled in cannabis use before he fully emerged himself in the lifestyle, Willie didn’t start daily use of cannabis until 1981. That being said, he still received his first arrest for cannabis in 1974. Not much info is available for the specifics of the arrest, but the record remains.

The Bahamas-1977

After a long tour with Hank Cochran, Willie decided to escape to the Bahamas for a little R&R. While there, cannabis was discovered in his jeans. After the finding, he was immediately arrested and jailed in the Bahamas. Rumor has it, he snuck a 6 pack in with him to pass the time. It’s said that after being released a few hours later, he was so drunk, he fell over while he was leaving the jail and taken to the ER. All of his charges were subsequently dropped, but he was ordered never to return to the islands.

Waco, Texas-1994

Following an all-night poker game, Willie was found by a patrolman pulled over on the side of the road. Nelson claimed “It was foggy and the weather was bad, so I pulled over to sleep. The patrolman found me in the backseat and a roach in the ashtray.” He was charged with possession and even had to miss the Grammys that year to appear in court.

St. Martin Parish, Louisiana-2006

While they were traveling to Governor Ann Richards’ funeral, Willlie’s tour bus was pulled over and 1.5 pounds of cannabis and 3 ounces of magic mushrooms were found onboard. Nelson, his sister, and the tour manager were all arrested and given 6 months probation.

Sierra Blanca, Texas-2010

Sierra Blanca is a famous border where many big names have been busted before. Snoop Dogg, Johnny Cash, and Wiz Khalifa are just a few of the big ones. Oh-and Willie Nelson. This bust was the most infamous in his cannabis history. 77 at the time, Nelson was busted with 6 ounces of cannabis aboard his tour bus. As he told Rolling Stone Magazine “I had been in California hanging out for a while and my bus had come out to pick me up because we had a couple of tour dates to do and I had forgotten that there was this little bag of weed on the bus that had been in the back there for weeks when I had been gone… Naturally, when they stopped us there the dogs came on and the first thing they went to was that little bag of pot back there.” We suppose 6 ounces is just a “little bag” in Willie’s eyes. Following the bust, Nelson was arrested and later posted a $2,500 bail. In the end, he did not serve any jail time but only paid a $550 fine. One thing is for sure-Willie should probably be a little more careful in Texas…

It is clear by his record, Willie is a huge advocate for the recreational use of cannabis. He has been a prominent fixture in the legalization of cannabis and his decades-long use has been a huge talking point for the issue. He writes in his memoir, Letters to America, “Every time we got busted, something good came out of it. Across our nation, there was more awareness and then resistance to long and unjust jail sentences. Not everyone gets to sing their way out of possessing a few joints. Over the years, Black Americans have been four times more likely to get arrested than their White neighbors. White or Black, those sentences destroy lives and families, and it costs tax dollars to lock people up for nonviolent crimes… I believe that within a decade, medicinal and recreational marijuana will be legal in all fifty states.” 

His fight has not been all in vain as we see 38 states with legalized recreational cannabis. We hope to see the other 12 soon follow and then Willie’s hopes will eventually come true. He has shown that just because someone enjoys cannabis, it does not mean you are a criminal or less than others. There are so many successful people across all careers who thrive and use cannabis daily. Thanks to Willie’s fight, we can kick back and light one up without the worry of being busted for enjoying the miracle plant we all know and love.

Must be 21+. Please consume responsibly.