Willie Nelson’s entrepreneurial spirit has been well-documented. He launched a biofuel company back in 2008, owns a pair of Texas Roadhouse locations, and of course runs the small business that is his songwriting/recording/performing career. But the most obvious commercial venture for Willie Nelson didn’t become a reality until this week: now, finally, he’s opening his own chain of marijuana dispensaries around the U.S. (in states where that sort of thing is legal, of course).
Willie told the Daily Beast about his plans to launch his own brand, and his own stores, at his annual SXSW event at his ranch in Luck:
There will be our own [brand of marijuana at the stores], and then there will be opportunities for other growers, who meet quality standards. Let’s just call it the anti-Walmart model. Personally, internally, that’s what we call it. A certain standard by which growers have to account for carbon and such, in a way that empowers small growers who are doing the right thing. […]
It will be like when you walk into a Whole Foods store. Whole Foods has their 365 brand, or you can buy Stony Brook, or you can buy Horizon… It’ll all fall under that umbrella of “here’s our core beliefs, and here’s our mission statement,” and they will be a part of that, to be a part of us.
Willie Nelson comparing his marijuana stores to Whole Foods, and describing a vision for an “anti-Walmart model” of selling weed, is both kinda hilarious and blindingly obvious.
There are probably not three people more associated with weed than Willie, of course (Snoop Dogg and Woody Harrelson might round out that list), so all of this makes a good deal of sense. He did, after all, record the song “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” (with an unlikely quartet featuring Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, and Snoop, no less) and more than a few other stoner anthems:
Indeed, Willie and Snoop seem to have a strong bond over their shared love of getting high: “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” was actually the second song the two recorded together as a tribute to the drug, after Snoop invited Willie to guest on his 2008 single “My Medicine”:
Willie’s not the only country star to record songs about how much Willie Nelson loves weed, in fact: Toby Keith’s post-9/11 album Shock’n Y’all featured a live bonus track called “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again,” a tune that Willie’s been known to sit in on with Keith and duet partner Scott Emerick from time to time:
Willie’s done more than just sing about marijuana, of course (indeed, those tracks above are the bulk of his songs on the subject). He’s advocated for it as a spokesman vocally for decades. In addition to quotes like “I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is a flower. God put it here,” which probably sound superdeep when you’re high, he’s also dropped some good one-liners in the past. On the subject of marijuana legalization, for example, he’s argued that it makes no sense to let criminals profit off of something that “won’t kill you unless you let a bale of it fall on you.”
And criminalization is, of course, something Willie is familiar with too: in 2010 Willie was famously busted for having weed on his tour bus at the Border Patrol interior checkpoint in Sierra Blanca. That case became controversial when the prosecutor promised to dismiss the charges if Willie showed up to sing “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” in the courtroom—a unique means of avoiding prosecution unavailable to others busted for possession—and was ultimately settled by mail, after Willie sent in the $500 fine amount via money order and an additional $278 in court costs.
And now, Willie’s love of weed is taking him out of the courtroom, off of the stage, and away from the interviews and into the most natural spot he could be: as retailer and spokesman for his favorite thing, selling Willie-approved strains in his own anti-Walmart. All is right in Willie’s world.