Woody Harrelson says Willie Nelson got him to start smoking pot again after 2-year hiatus

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Actor Woody Harrelson, once known as a heavy pot smoker, famously gave up his habit not long ago, but his friend Willie Nelson wasn’t having it.

“For almost two years. No smoking, no vaping. And then I ran into this guy... and that was that,” Harrelson says of the country music star in the September issue of Esquire.

Woody Harrelson attends the premiere of The Highwaymen at the Paramount Theatre during the 2019 SXSW Conference And Festival on March 10 in Austin, Tex. (Photo: Gary Miller/FilmMagic)

Harrelson explained the moment he began smoking again in a very Harrelson way. You can easily picture him telling the story.

"See, everybody thinks of Willie as a model of progressive thinking and virtue, and he is, but he’s also got an evil side. Eee-vil,” the Highwaymen star said. “Now, Willie never felt too good about me quitting. And he kept trying to get me to not quit. We’d be playing poker and he’d pass me a vape pen, and I’d say, ‘Willie, man, I don’t do that anymore.’ And he’d act surprised, like it was news to him — every time, just as surprised as he could be.”

Willie Nelson and Woody Harrelson attend Farm Aid on Oct. 3, 1998, at New World Music Theater in Tinley Park, Ill. (Photo: Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

Then, one night when the two were playing poker in Maui, Harrelson gave in to the urge, much to Nelson’s delight.

“Willie passed me the pen after I’d won this huge pot,” Harrelson said. “I was in a celebrating mood, so I snatched the pen from him and took a long draw. And Willie smiled at me and said, ‘Welcome home, son.’”

Harrelson had previously given a simple reason for kicking his habit.

“[It was] 30 solid years of partying too f***ing hard,” he told People in March 2017. “I feel like it was keeping me from being emotionally available.”

But Harrelson doesn’t have any hard feelings, and he and Nelson continue to be close. Harrelson explained in his new interview just how the two became friends.

“I went and saw one of his shows a number of years ago. I wanted to meet him,” Harrelson said. “So afterward, I went to his bus and knocked on the door, and the door opened, and smoke was billowing out, and I look through the haze and I see this fellow with long hair holding a big old fatty, and he says, ‘Let’s burn one.’ And I know right away that he’s going to be a friend for life. He told me he had a place in Maui and to come on out, and that’s how I just sort of ended up there.”

Back in 2016, Harrelson even applied to open a medical marijuana dispensary in his adopted home state, but his application was denied.

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