Willie Nelson Has Quit Smoking Weed: "I Have Abused My Lungs"

The country music icon and longtime proponent of legalizing marijuana says "breathing is a little more difficult."

Country music icon Willie Nelson, 86, has always been known as a weed enthusiast. He has his own line of marijuana products, he's been actively involved in the marijuana legalization movement, and he's written plenty of song lyrics celebrating all things cannabis. But now, the legendary musician has announced that he's no longer smoking weed due to breathing issues.

"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," Nelson told KSAT TV's Paul Venema during a recent interview. The singer had to cancel his tour in early August due to breathing issues, but when reached recently, his longtime publicist said that he is still using cannabis but has stopped inhaling smoke for now. She also said that he has edibles, and that he was vaping the last time she saw him.

Nelson has previously said that he started smoking as early as six years old while growing up in the rural community of Abbott, Texas.

"Cigarettes killed my mother, my father, my stepmother, and my stepfather—half the people in my family were killed by cigarettes. I watched my dad die after lying in bed with oxygen the last couple of years of his life," Nelson wrote in his 2012 memoir Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die. "Cigarettes have killed more people than all the wars put together I think. But like my old buddy Billy Cooper used to say, 'It's my mouth. I'll haul coal in it if I want to.' I think I'd have been better off with the coal."

By the time he quit smoking cigarettes, Nelson had already taken up smoking marijuana, which he says is actually what helped him make the switch. "The day I quit … I took out the pack of cigarettes that I had just bought, opened it, threw them all away, rolled up 20 joints, replaced the 20 Chesterfields, and put the pack back in my shirt pocket, where I always kept my cigarettes," he wrote. "Because half of the habit, for me, was reaching for and lighting something."

In April 2019, he told Rolling Stone that weed "saved [his] life" because it kept him "from wanting to kill people." But now he's changing his tune, because being able to perform takes precedence. Nelson is not ready to leave the stage—or the road—just yet.

"I love the bus," he told KSAT TV. "This is my home."

And if you're wondering how long it takes for your body to recover from the effects of smoking cigarettes, check out: Science Says This Is How Long it Takes Your Body to Reverse the Damage of Smoking.

Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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