Willie Nelson was arrested yesterday at a border patrol checkpoint in Sierra Blanca, Texas after agents reportedly found 6 ounces of marijuana on his tour bus. Mickey Raphael, Nelson's longtime harmonica player, tells Rolling Stone that the singer, who posted a $2,500 bond was freed by 1:30 p.m. yesterday, is in good spirits. "He said he feels great — he lost six ounces."
Raphael says Nelson, 77, was traveling without his band from California, where he spent the Thanksgiving holiday, to Austin, TX, where he owns a ranch. The El Paso Times reports that agents at a checkpoint searched his bus, called the Honeysuckle Rose III, at 9 a.m. Nelson admitted the pot was his and was taken to the local Hudspeth County jail.
"It's kind of surprising, but I mean we treat him like anybody else," Hudspeth County Sherriff Arvin West told the newspaper. "He could get 180 days in county jail," the sheriff added. "If he does, I'm going to make him cook and clean."
Nelson's publicist had no comment.
The singer has long advocated for the legalization of marijuana. "It's a matter of time, a matter of education, a matter of people finding out what cannabis, marijuana is for, why it grows out of the ground and why it's prescribed as one of the greatest stress medicines on the planet," he said in 2008.
In January, six of Nelson's band members were issued citations in North Carolina for reportedly possessing moonshine and marijuana. In 2006, Nelson and four others on his bus were issued citations at a traffic stop in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana after authorities seized nearly 1.5 pounds of marijuana and 3 ounces of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Nelson and tour manager David Anderson both paid a $1,024 fine and served six months of probation. "Both bus drivers were over fifty years old," Nelson said at the time. "The other guys were 60 years old. My sister is 75, I'm 73, so it's like they busted an old folks home."