Monday, September 18, 2006

Willie Nelson bus busted for pot

Score another one for Louisiana PR machine

AP--Willie Nelson and four others were issued misdemeanor citations for possession of narcotic mushrooms and marijuana after a traffic stop Monday morning on a Louisiana highway, state police said.

Nelson, 73, has recorded songs including “On the Road Again” and “City of New Orleans.”

Arresting Willie Nelson for pot is the law-enforcement equivalent of playing Jenga with Michael J. Fox. Sure, it's an ego boost and a brush with fame; but it's wrong to even consider. Leave it to Louisiana law enforcement to embarrass us once again! And they wonder why we have such a hard time attracting celebrities.

The citations were issued after a commercial vehicle inspection of the country music star’s tour bus, state police said in a news release.

This arrest is particularly intriguing to me because it happened roughly 10 miles from where I live. As a licensed driver in the state of Louisiana, and one who has traversed this particular stretch of I-10 almost as many times as Willie's performed "On the Road Again," I can say with confidence that I've never seen, or even heard of, these so-called "vehicular inspection stops."

While all Louisiana vehicles undergo a yearly inspection, it's typically done at a service station and not along some random stretch of interstate highway early in the morning. And judging by the extremely expired inspection stickers I routinely see on cars here, enforcement isn't so stringent that they'll pull you over just for that (nor, judging by my observations, for mere drunkenness).

Perhaps "commercial vehicle inspection" refers to the weigh-in stations that rigs frequent. But as a regular night driver, I never see them open. And as many busses as I've traveled in on red-eye journeys, I've never seen one have to pull over for this kind of thing. On the other hand, I can fully believe that a giant green bio-fueled bus with Willie Nelson stuff emblazoned across it would attract the attention of some bored, star-struck cops at an early-morning hour. The news release from the Louisiana State Police sure smacks of bombast:

Troopers Charge Musicians
September 18, 2006

On September 18, 2006, a Louisiana State Police Criminal Interdiction Unit stopped a 2005 Prevost Tour Bus to conduct a Commercial Vehicle Inspection. The traffic stop was conducted on the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 near milepost 110. When the door was opened and the Trooper began to speak to the driver, he smelled the strong odor of Marijuana in the bus. After smelling this, Troopers conducted a search of the bus. During the course of the search, approximately one and one-half pounds of Marijuana and approximately two-tenths of a pound of Mushrooms were located on the bus. Troopers placed the driver out of service.

No word on whether the driver was, in fact, stoned himself. If he wasn't, that sets an interesting legal precedent. Goodbye, designated drivers!

The press release comes attached with a photo of the contraband, for some reason. You can also see the stash here, courtesy of The Independent. As you look at this photo, breathe a sigh of relief that you are now safe from this horrifying menace. Your tax dollars at work! Awesome Ziploc plug, by the way. No yellow and blue seal here--only green!

There were enough drugs to merit a felony charge of distribution if they had been found in one person’s possession, state police spokesman Willie Williams said. But all five claimed the drugs as their own and the drugs were not packaged for resale, so each was charged with misdemeanors, he said. All were released after the citations were issued.

How rock and roll is that? "Honestly, officer, that weed is MINE!" If only our politicians would be this forthright! All right, so saying this got them off more serious charges; but you know damn well they weren't kidding. Willie is one of marijuana's most outspoken advocates, and he wasn't about to unload that comfort.

This arrest happened one year to the day--and almost to the hour--that my fabled truck of six years died for good on the side of Highway 90 near Baldwin (a good 44 miles from Lafayette and about three miles from a sign). At that time, I couldn't buy a state trooper, and even 911 couldn't locate me. Maybe I should've bought some weed before I broke down? Next time, I'll put a stash in my emergency kit, right next to the road flares. Because while the mission of the police is supposedly "to protect and serve," it's apparently much easier to get their attention if you're doing something naughty.

And while I'm no advocate of law breaking (or drug using) myself, I do think we put a serious strain on our national penal infrastructure by keeping marijuana illegal. But even if current law continues to prevail, common sense dictates that Willie Nelson and his band are not a threat to society. Hell, wouldn't we all like to be that productive and virile at 73? I say, channel that police muscle into real crime--you know, the kind that ends lives prematurely.

On behalf of the entire state of Louisiana, Willie, I am sorry. We hope that you will not find this stop as indicative of the character of our state, and hope you will perform here again soon. If you do, you may have the privilege of having this clumsy sub-headline appear in an article about you:


Hillary For President said...

I no, it like why do'nt they go fine some reel crimianl to attest? One like that rip off the common man retirement and make billions and lik ehtat. Or what they can do just arrest soem gun owner's. Those people MURDER deers, peasents, and bears all the time and they get away with it. Sick it what that is, but a little marajuanna, come on.

If they run out people to arrest, they just to go republcan side of house of representative and arrest all NEOCONS. They can take liburman too. ROFL ROFL.

OGM. It so rong what they do willie. THe poleice should arrest well known NEOCONS like Rush Limbaugh for his drug's but let a nice librail like willie go is what they should do. Dumb officer, cuffs are for NEOCONS only.

Abzinth said...

Well, I just learned that Willie Nelson was still alive, that's a pretty good news to begin the day with.

"By this time everybody is off the bus rolling in the brown grass by the shoulder, laughing, giggling, yahooing, zonked to the skies on acid, because, mon, the woods are burning, the whole world is on fire, and a Cassady monologue on automotive safety is rising up from out of his throat like weenie smoke, as if the great god Speed were frying in his innards, and the cop, representative of the people of California in this total freaking situation, is all hung up on a hand brake that doesn't exist in the first place. And the cop, all he can see is a bunch of crazies in screaming orange and green costumes, masks, boys and girls, men and women, twelve or fourteen of them, lying in the grass and making hideously crazy sounds - christ almighty, why the hell does he have to contend with ... So he wheels around and says, "What are you, uh - show people?"
"That's right, officer," Kesey says. "We're show people. It's been a long row to hoe, I can tell you, and it's gonna be a long row to hoe, but that's the business."
"Well, " says the cop, "you fix up those things and..." He starts backing off toward his car, cutting one last look at the crazies. "...And watch it next time..." And he guns on off." (Tom Wolfe)

Pondering American said...

To be honest, I think the troopers handled it right. It is a law on the books that hundreds everyday in this State have to go to Court over. I don't see how Willie if any different.

Seems like the State Troopers actually treated him pretty well.

BadTux said...

Yessiree, Pondering, the troopers handled it right just like those troopers in Birmingham, Alabamy did when they arrested that feller by the name of "Martin Luther King" for breaking the law that said a black man can't drink from a fountain marked "Whites Only". The law is the law, gosh darn it! Even when it's a stupid law that protects nobody and protects nothing except stupidity and bigotry!

Boy, arresting Willie Nelson really makes me feel safer, yessiree!

-- Badtux the Snarky Penguin

Ian McGibboney said...

Right, badtux. Laws are the constructs of men, and they change all the time. And this is one that certainly has to change, especially given its arbitrary enforcement and inconsistent sentencing. Average people are arrested all the time just for possessing it, and for what? So we can appear to be tough on crime?

There are so many more important battles to fight than this, especially considering the massive amount of manpower and resources it takes to combat this victimless crime. Get real! And no, I don't touch the stuff.

thehim said...

Is the tag name Pondering American supposed to be ironic?

whig said...

Here's my take: Support a real patriot.

saintlywife said...

I'm a little late to this but, isn't it a bit *too easy* to cite Willie, et al for possession? I mean, if you see Willie Nelson's tour bus driving down the interstate, isn't it a given that you'll find pot, at least, on board? This is a man who smoked on the roof of The White House (and doncha have to love him for that?)

I just have to make a comment about something on the radio that really irked me about this. One of the Lake Charles (where I live) radio stations used this as a trivia question the day after it happened. And the DJ remarked that maybe Willie would have to do community service at Contraband Days, because it would go to help SW Lousiana. I wish I would have called in the answer. Willie and band were not pulled over in SWLA! They were pulled over at Breaux Bridge. (For the map-challanged, like this DJ, that is South Central LA.) If he were to play any festival as "community service", you'd be looking at a performance at the Crawfish Festival, at least, and Downtown Alive, at most. Idiot!