The Associated Press is reporting that Louisiana State Troopers issued misdemeanor drug citations to Willie Nelson and several members of his band during a traffic stop. This is the sort of surprising bust that can absolutely make a career for a law enforcement officer. For those of you that weren't paying attention, that previous sentence was completely full of sarcasm.In perhaps the biggest understatement in history, Trooper Willie Williams (only in Louisiana do you get a name like that) said when the bus driver opened the door there was a "strong odor of marijuana. Duh! Inside the bus the troopers found roughly a pound and a half of marijuana and (proving Louisiana State Troopers have no grasp of fractions) 2/10 of a pound of mushrooms. Nelson and his band members were issued citations and released. Now for a little commentary... What the hell were these troopers thinking? Notice that
1. No traffic violations were issued
2. The Bus Driver was not included in the list of those cited. So the "routine traffic stop" apparently had no other cause than they saw "Honeysuckle Rose" written on the side of the bus and figured, "What the hell, we'll bust Willie today!" Also no matter what might have been taking place on the bus, the driver was unimpaired and performing his duties well. Were the troopers seriously surprised when they "smelled a strong odor of marijuana"? Willie, perhaps the most well-known pot head in the world, lives most of his life on that bus. Do we imagine that he only partakes in his favorite pastime when he's at home, and not touring, or that he only buys enough pot to tide him over in that specific town, procuring it locally? Come on! And what does this gain the noble officers of the Louisiana State Police? Fame? Prestige? Not really, no. We (the people of Louisiana) get to look backward in every public newspaper for a day or two, with Willie Williams as our leader. We also pissed off Willie (Nelson not Williams, who cares about Williams?) and possibly other touring acts. Hmm, think that might do any harm to our hopes of resuscitating New Orleans as a tourist and music hub? I'm not defending Willie. He's an old man, and God knows he should have more important things to do with his life than spend it in a drug induced haze. On the flip side, what business is it of ours (or more directly Trooper Willie Williams') what he does in the privacy of his bus. He wasn't endangering the public, he wasn't (apparently) employing a driver that was incompetent or breaking any laws, he wasn't pushing the drugs on kids (all of those cited were over the age of 50). Let's face facts, Willie (Nelson, not Williams) has done more for contemporary music in that "drug induced haze" than the rest of us ever will (Trooper Williams should maybe take up the habit). Let Willie be Willie, and please let's keep Louisiana out of the national headlines, for a day or two at least.