Country music maverick and legendary stoner Willie Nelson says he has stopped smoking pot, which he has previously credited with saving his life.
“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,” the Texas native told San Antonio’s ABC affiliate KSAT last week. “I don’t smoke anymore — take better care of myself.”
However, the longtime advocate of marijuana legalization did not say if he has suspended other forms of recreational or medicinal use. (The premium cannabis brand Willie’s Reserve, of course, bears his name and also sells a variety of non-smoking products.)
Nelson’s publicist, Elaine Schock, confirmed to USA Today that the singer still uses cannabis, but didn’t specify in what form: “Willie does what he wants when he wants regarding smoking. There are numerous ways of consumption,” she said.
The country outlaw, 86, whose hits include “On the Road Again” and “Always on My Mind,” took up smoking weed after giving up cigarettes and whiskey in 1978. He also famously penned the 2012 song “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.”
“I wouldn’t be alive,” Nelson told Rolling Stone in April. “I wouldn’t have lived 85 years if I’d have kept drinking and smoking like I was when I was 30, 40 years old. I think that weed kept me from wanting to kill people.”
Mind you, this is the same interview in which he said he stays high “pretty much all the time.”
In August, the veteran musician, who has battled emphysema, canceled his Willie Nelson & Family tour because of a “breathing problem” and then dropped out of his Farm-Aid appearance the following month. In 2018, Nelson was forced to cancel several dates because of the flu.
Despite his ongoing health issues and rumors that he’s near death (which he summarily dismissed), Nelson told KSAT that he’s “lucky to be here.”