I went to Willie Nelson’s 90th birthday concert and left with a lot of weed wisdom

April 30, 2023 · Los Angeles Times

From the moment the two-day, star-studded “Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90” birthday bash at the Hollywood Bowl was announced, it promised to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the cross-generational cannabis crowd to convene and pay tribute to a longtime advocate of the herb.

Organizers seemed to recognize this too, with plant-friendly performers including Snoop Dogg and Billy Strings on the bill (the latter having just released a weed-centric duet with Nelson called “California Sober”) and not one but two different commemorative rolling trays on offer in the merch tents.

The confluence of weed-friendly folks — both on stage and off — at the historic open-air venue (which, having celebrated its centennial last year, is barely a decade older than Nelson) seemed like the perfect opportunity to check in with pot people who flocked to the Bowl for the occasion. As a Times reporter focused on cannabis, I wanted to find out what they were firing up for the evening, what their go-to concert enhancements were and what nuggets of weed wisdom they’d learned over the years.

It’s worth noting at the outset that technically cannabis smoking isn’t permitted at the venue. (Press representatives recently told The Times that it’s because the Hollywood Bowl is L.A. County park land and therefore technically public — not private — property.)

In-bound security checks on the first night of the two-night event seemed unconcerned about weeding out combustible plant material — at least based on the personal experience of the people I polled Saturday afternoon and evening. However, I mention that here because no one I spoke to as I wandered the Bowl was willing to share their last name or show their face in a photograph. They all had a vested interest in being able to enjoy the second night of the two-night extravaganza without being singled out for scrutiny. Also, more than a few cited the ongoing cannabis stigma as a reason for only giving their first names. (Not to mention that while legal in California, weed remains illegal at the federal level.)

Over the course of the evening, something became apparent to me: Although Nelson himself has reportedly stopped puffing pot, part of his legacy for the next 90 years and no doubt beyond will always be about bringing the cannabis community together. Consider the torch — and the joint — passed to the next generation(s).

Now meet several of the colorful characters I crossed paths with on Saturday and take in some nuggets of weed wisdom culled from their collective 277-plus years of cannabis consumption. (It could actually be 300 years’ worth or more, but 74-year-old Tish from Austin, Texas, wasn’t sure of how long she’d been a fan of the herb.) (Full Story)

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