Along with incredible country songs, the name Willie Nelson has long been synonymous with weed. But while the country legend shows no signs of retiring from the road, he says he's parted ways with pot -- at least smoking it. Last year, the 87-year-old told San Antonio station KSAT that, due to breathing issues, he's stopped smoking weed.
"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 said. "I don't smoke anymore. I take better care of myself today."
In August of 2019, Nelson canceled a string of shows due to a breathing problem.
"Singing out there for an hour is a good workout," Nelson told KSAT. "Your lungs are the biggest muscle you've got. So when you're out there working, you are working out."
Nelson told the Texas station that he isn't taking his health for granted.
I'm here, I'm glad to be here," Nelson said. "I'm lucky to be here."
Nelson has been outspoken about the positive impact of marijuana on his life. In 2019, he told Rolling Stone that weed saved his life.
"I wouldn't be alive. It saved my life, really. 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," Nelson said. "I think that weed kept me from wanting to kill people. And probably kept a lot of people from wanting to kill me, too -- out there drunk, running around."
In 2015, Nelson launched Willie's Reserve, his own brand of marijuana, which is based in Colorado. Last year, he expanded Willie's Reserve with Willie's Remedy, a line of coffee beans infused with CBD oil.
The Red Headed Stranger's weed has been a part of country music lore for decades. In 2003, Toby Keith even released a song about the country music icon's notoriously strong stash: "Weed With Willie," featuring the lyric "I'll never smoke weed with Willie again/ My party's all over before it begins."
The singer-songwriter's love of smoking marijuana even became a national matter of interest when he reportedly smoked on the roof of the White House during Jimmy Carter's presidency.
"We were there, and there it was, and why not, you know?" Nelson said. "And they have a great view from the roof."
Nelson released his most recent album, First Rose of Spring, earlier this year.
This article was originally published in December of 2019. It was updated and re-shared on Oct. 6, 2020.