Willie Nelson visited the White House this week to perform in a salute to the troops, but the noted marijuana enthusiast said beforehand that he wouldn’t be bringing up the topic of legalization. As he told CNN, that was partially because he felt that he and President Obama were on the same wavelength. The concert, which also included performances by Mary J. Blige, Common and John Fogerty, occurred days after voters in Washington, D.C., Oregon, Alaska and the U.S. territory Guam approved laws to legalize cannabis for recreational use to varying degrees.
“I think I realize how he feels about it,” Nelson said. “And I’ve read some of his books and things about when he was a kid, how he maybe had delved into that matter a little bit. I’m sure he’s very understanding of what’s going on and he may be happy to see it happening.”
Obama’s memoir Dreams of My Father included references to the president smoking pot and the book Barack Obama: The Story alleged that Obama’s high school clique smoked so much weed it referred to itself as the “Choom Gang,” according to The Washington Post.
When CNN asked Nelson how long he felt it would take before marijuana would be legal in half of the U.S., the country singer said it could be sooner than naysayers expect. “I think [it will happen] once people have realized…how much money there is in it,” he said. “Colorado and some of those other states have shown the people already that it’s a very lucrative business. So I think it won’t take long before the rest of the states come around.”
Nelson elliptically dodged the topic of his alleged turn smoking pot on the top of the White House during the Carter Administration, but he entertained a silly question about whether or not smoking weed “would help people in D.C. get along.” After a pause, Nelson said, “Well, I really think stress is the cause of a lot of our problems, and I really believe that the best medicine for stress is pot. Yeah, I think it would make us get along better all over the world.”
The concert for the troops, including Nelson’s performance, was broadcast on PBS as A Salute to the Troops: In Performance at the White House Friday night. In addition to the musicians who performed on the lawn of the White House, it will include a set by Daughtry, who appeared via satellite from Japan.
According to The Associated Press, Obama commented that the mix of musical genres was appropriate, “because here in America, no matter where you’re from, no matter what music you listen to, we’re all united in our respect and admiration for our brave men and women who wear our country’s uniform.”