Willie Nelson says he has given up smoking pot for health reasons

In addition to his immense musical talent, country legend Willie Nelson has long been known for his fondness for smoking marijuana. But according to a recent news report, the aging singer has changed his ways.

“I don’t smoke anymore,” Nelson said in a recent interview with a CBS affiliate in San Antonio. “I take better care of myself today than I did then.”

An octogenarian star

Now 86 years old, Nelson went into detail about what prompted the surprising decision, explaining: “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.

“I’ve mistreated myself since I was this big,” the singer lamented while gesturing toward the ground. What’s more, his smoking habit was never limited to cannabis alone.

“I started out smoking cedar bark and it went from that to cigarettes, to whatever. And that almost killed me,” he said.

The outlet reported that Nelson had been forced to cancel six shows on a recent concert tour due to “breaking issues.” However, it also said that Nelson has no plans to stop performing and has tour dates booked through 2020. Further, the Texas native has a blunt message for those who doubt he can make it.

“I don’t give a s**t,” he replied when asked about rumors that his health was in serious decline. “Excuse me. I’m here. I’m glad to be here. I’m lucky to be here.”

Not cold turkey

Nelson’s publicist Elaine Schock later clarified her client’s remarks about his use of marijuana, according to USA Today, saying that while Nelson has indeed stopped smoking, he hasn’t ceased consumption of marijuana it altogether, noting that there are other ways the drug can be used.

That Nelson would abandon what has long been such a significant part of his life was a cause of great surprise for some, with Page Six columnist Oli Coleman remarking that Nelson’s “smoking habit was rivaled only by Snoop Dogg’s.” Coleman compared Nelson quitting the drug to “Michael Jordan retiring from the NBA” or “Donald Trump quitting Twitter.”

“Nelson,” he went on, “has allegedly smoked weed on the roof of the White House, has credited the drug with saving his life, and his personal stash was so powerful that it inspired the Toby Keith song, “I’ll Never Smoke Weed With Willie Again.”

Vice has reported that the aforementioned White House incident was facilitated by Nelson’s personal friendship with former President Jimmy Carter’s middle child, James Earl Carter III.

The former president’s son has confirmed the truth of the anecdote, saying: “Well, he told me not to ever tell anybody.”

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