Willie Nelson Becomes Maureen Dowd's 'Marijuana Miyagi'

The New York Times columnist takes the country icon up on his offer, published in Rolling Stone, to get high with him on his tour bus

Willie Nelson performs at Lockn’ Music Festival on September 7th, 2014 in Arrington, VA. Credit: Erika Godring/Getty Images

In his Rolling Stone cover story, Willie Nelson said that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd was welcome on his bus to get high properly "anytime" after reading her account of a bad experience with a marijuana-infused candy bar. Dowd took him up on the offer and penned her Sunday Review op-ed column about how welcoming and enlightening Nelson was, calling him her "marijuana Miyagi."

The columnist met with Nelson before his recent concert at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club, where he invited her onto his tour bus, the Honeysuckle Rose. After she got over her nerves ("The 81-year-old Redheaded Stranger is an icon," she wrote, "one of America's top songwriters and, as Rolling Stone said, 'a hippie's hippie and a redneck's redneck'"), she asked him what she should know about legal pot so she does not have a repeat episode.

"The same thing that happened to you happened to me one or two times when I was not aware of how much strength was in whatever I was eating," Nelson told her. "One time, I ate a bunch of cookies that, I knew they were laced but I didn't worry about it. I just wanted to see what it would do, and I overdid it, naturally, and I was laying there, and it felt like the flesh was falling off my bones.

"Honestly, I don't do edibles," he continued. "I'd rather do it the old-fashioned way, because I don't enjoy the high that the body gets. Although I realize there's a lot of other people who have to have it that way, like the children that they're bringing to Colorado right now for medical treatments. Those kids can't smoke. So for those people, God bless 'em, we're for it."

"I thought the article was great," Nelson tells Rolling Stone. "Pretty funny."

In his Rolling Stone interview, Nelson had said that, after Dowd's bad trip, "maybe she'll read the label now." In her column, Dowd wrote, "Nelson humored me as I also pointed out that the labels last winter did not feature the information that would have saved me from my night of dread." (New labeling laws have since been passed in both of the states where weed is legal, Colorado and Washington.)

Elsewhere in the column, Nelson explained why he had started smoking weed in the first place. "I found out that pot is the best thing for me because I needed something to slow me down a little bit," Nelson told Dowd. Referring to his past as a "mean drunk," to use Dowd's phrasing, he also said that if he had continued to drink heavily, "there's no telling how many people I would have killed by now."

Additionally, the country singer shrugged off California Governor Jerry Brown's claim that America's superiority would be threatened if everyone indulged in marijuana and humored a question about a time when he allegedly smoked a joint on the roof of the White House, during the Carter administration. "It happened a long time ago," he said. "I'm sure it happened."

As for possibly smoking pot in the Lincoln bedroom, Nelson told Dowd, "I wouldn't do anything Lincoln wouldn't have done."