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Willie’s pot case: gone for a song

March 23rd, 2011 under Top Stories


SIERRA BLANCA – The Hudspeth County Attorney is ready to make a plea deal with the Red Headed Stranger.

“I’m gonna let him plead, pay a small fine and he’s gotta sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” with his guitar right there in the courtroom,” County Attorney Kit Bramblett said this week. “You bet your ass I ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson.”

Nelson was arrested November 26 after a Border Patrol agent smelled pot wafting from Nelson’s tour bus at the Sierra Blanca checkpoint. A little more than six ounces was found on the bus. Shotgun Willie was arraigned and on the road again after paying a $2,500 bond.

Thousands of vehicles roll through two Border Patrol checkpoints in Hudspeth County every day and finding pot here and there is pretty common. Bramblett handles 10 or 12 personal use cases every month. The 6.24 ounces that was found when Willie was arrested is above the amount Bramblett can handle in his jurisdiction. Well, no problem.

“Between me and the sheriff, we threw out enough of it or smoked enough so that there’s only three ounces, which is within my jurisdiction,” Bramblett said.

Willie Nelson playing at the Gallego Center for the grand opening of the Marfa Public Radio station. (file photo by ALBERTO TOMAS HALPERN)

Actually, he explained, once you take the dope out of its packaging, the weight drops and that’s how Willie landed in the county attorney’s case load. Usually, those small personal use cases come from people traveling across the country on the interstate – they’re on their way someplace. If it’s a misdemeanor amount, like Nelson’s, Bramblett commonly allows them to plead and pay a fine and court costs through the mail. When the singer rolled through, County Judge Becky Dean Walker issued a mandate to Bramblett: “She told me you don’t dare let Willie Nelson plead through the mail,” the attorney recounted.

The fine will be $100 and court costs amount to $278. Bramblett said he’s in contact with Nelson’s lawyer. Next time the singer’s tour schedule brings the Honeysuckle Rose close to Sierra Blanca, Bramblett’s office will be notified and Willie will make a scheduled stop at the Hudspeth County courthouse.

“Willie Nelson is 77 years old and I’m 78,” Bramblett said. “He’s been my favorite artist all my life. We all know he smokes a little pot.”

Story filed under: Top Stories

51 Responses to “Willie’s pot case: gone for a song”

  1. […] ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson,” Hudspeth county attorney Kit Bramblett told the Big Bend Sentinel. Judge Dean-Walker later intervened, calling this “a joke that got out of hand”. At the […]

  2. […] ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson,” Hudspeth county attorney Kit Bramblett told the Big Bend Sentinel. Judge Dean-Walker later intervened, calling this “a joke that got out of hand”. At the […]

  3. Pasquale says:

    “If it’s a misdemeanor amount, like Nelson’s, Bramblett commonly allows them to plead and pay a fine and court costs through the mail.”

    I think the use of the word “commonly” shows this isn’t an across the board policy.

  4. Pasquale says:

    The preferential treatment by the court is the big concern. I’m for legalization or decriminalization, but until then the fact is that someone’s celebrity status shouldn’t allow them special treatment for breaking the law.

  5. Pasquale says:

    I am so happy to hear someone say this. I’m of the same mind on the issue. It is amazing to me how many people I know saying “Well, it’s Willie,” and not seeing the bigger picture. The fact is he is getting preferential treatment because of who he is. It’s sad so many people need to vicariously live through a celebrity that they would allow their justice system to be made a mockery of to see no harm done to him.

  6. […] The Hudspeth County prosecutor in the case said he was willing to let Nelson off with a $100 fine if Nelson performed his song “Blue Eyes Smiling in the Rain” in the courtroom.  The prosecutor Kit Bramblett, reportedly said the song would count as Nelson’s community service. Nelson had 6oz of pot, but prosecutors said with no packaging it weighed less than 3oz – making it a misdemeanor. “Between me and the sheriff, we threw out enough of [the marijuana] or smoked enough so that there’s only three ounces,” he joked to the Big Bend Sentinel. […]

  7. […] When you're a Brotastic legend like good ole Willie Nelson, you're able to wiggle your way out of marijuana possession charges in ways that mere mortals simply can not. As you may recall, on November 26, 2010, the country music legend was arraigned at a Texas-Mexico border crossing with a little more than six ounces of pot in his tour bus. Now the Hudspeth County Attorney is making one hell of a deal with the Red Headed Stranger: Perform a signature song in the middle of the county courtroom and pay a small fine. Last week County Attorney Kit Bramblett said, "“I’m gonna let him plead, pay a small fine and he’s gotta sing “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” with his guitar right there in the courtroom. You bet your ass I ain’t gonna be mean to Willie Nelson.” Well Kit, those are words we'll happily stuff that in our pipe and smoke. Details below, via Big Bend Now: […]

  8. tim greer says:

    i agree that it should be legal to have personal amt of smoke , and i love Willie he sings so good. but what i do not believe is a judge going against the law and allowing someone to get away with it because he famous.i think we need to put down the blunt and get off our hind ends and do something to get it legalized. as for this judge think he needs to be locked up in his own jail for disrespecting his position and making a mockery of our judicial system. true it only a little smoke , but it total wrong to let someone off for anything , all that leads to is bribery and crooked judges .. so take a min to write your congress man and let him know how you feel about pot , and that it should be legalized because now days there more of us pro then con, if we stand up and do something things would get changed . have a good day enjoy that blunt , but do us all a favor and do something about it help to make it legal……

  9. Willie has raised a lot of money for farmers and others in need so him being 77 years old just let him enjoy a little pot now and then and I don’t smoke anything at all.

  10. Sun Ra says:

    The “powers that be” in Hudspeth County need to get a life. Your 15 minutes of fame (or was that 15 seconds?) have come and gone! Willie Nelson’s mariguana case is so unremarkable, but yet you guys think you’re going to bring him to justice and get a free show in the courtroom in lieu of the norml penalty? And joking about smoking some of the seized pot?

    Run! I hear banjos in the streets of Sierra Blanca!

  11. Regime Change says:

    And yet, he broke the law, no?
    Perhaps this whole case, and Joe’s argument above, require you to grasp the larger context.
    And the point that the Law is wrong.
    People will always enjoy altered states, be they through mediation, religious rites, sex, yoga, music, drugs, or alcohol.
    It is not a period, it is an ellipse…you have to consider what change would mean.
    No more drug wars in the US/Mex/CA/SA/world.
    No more money wasted on stopping the unstoppable, money for treatment/education instead.
    No more lives marginalized/ruined by pointless imprisonment.
    Less prisoners, more contributing adults.
    Less hypocritical preaching by talking heads.

    One could go on for hours, but perhaps by now you’ve seen something new, and are less blinded by laws of the State.

  12. Jen says:

    I’m glad Willie is getting off easy and that this story is really damn funny, but it’s not really fair- then again, who said life was fair. Just because he’s famous and has a fanbase that just happens to include the judge, he gets to go no hassles, where if it were me or my friends or you, you’d be jailed, have to go through the trial process, and be charged a huge fine, possibly (probably) losing your lisence in the process. That’s kinda bull.

  13. […] to the Big Bend Sentinel, the case is being resolved in a … lyrical […]

  14. HDJ says:

    Not rich? No, you’re not Willie. But then, none of us are. Sorry about your plight, really — it’s a stupid law to begin with.

  15. Worry about driving drunk or texting while driving, no one dies from smoking pot. At least I have never heard of this happening. The only reason it is not legal, is it can be grown at home without any large corporation making money from it. Cigarettes are far worse for your health, why do you get excited about Willie smoking weed?

  16. Elizabeth McFall says:

    Rush was never charged.
    The point of the matter is that it is against the law in Texas. Period.

  17. Joe S says:

    Justice requires an injured party. When you have laws punishing people for personal, consentual choices that impact no one but themselves you get outcomes like this. If you’ve got money or are popular you’re an upstanding citizen who doesn’t need to be punished. Rush Limbaugh, one of the biggest advocates of the War on Drugs, was never punished for his violation of the very laws he supports. But sometimes you need to be made into an example and then the punishment is excessively harsh. But with the War on Drugs, mostly it’s just an easy source of revenue for the police and courts. It’s also the government’s original ‘stimulus plan’ to keep all those revenue agents employed with the end of the prohibition of alcohol. And since it’s only hippies, liberals, darkies, and other undesirables that use drugs recreationally it’s also a nice way for all those nice social conservatives to stick it to everyone who rejects their point of view.
    In Texas 1.2 million people refused to pay DWI ‘surcharges’ over 3 years. The policy failed and is being repealed. Maybe if those 1.6 million arrested a year for drug violations just refused to show up in court…

  18. While it is apparent that Willie was given a break,I hope it shows the stupidity of our nations drug laws.We the people are the ones who should decide what we choose to do with our bodies and minds.The U.S. Government has lost all validity and can no longer be taken serious in any form,Unjust laws ,unjust wars ,and dont forget the unjust murder of our own people.Willie is and will be eternal in the realm of music.God bless Willie Nelson and may God help America.

  19. Loretta Young-Wilkins says:

    I couldn’t be more pleased — way to go Bramblett!

  20. CW says:

    Maybe they’ll let you do a tap dance routine in the courtroom to knock off some that time and fine. Yep, this confirms that the war on drugs is simply another tool in class warfare.

  21. Coinspinner says:

    Don’t plead guilty, Willie!! No jury in TX will convict.

  22. CW says:

    Yep, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer

  23. Maria says:

    Love it.

  24. Maria says:

    You know. You’re right. He is rich. And he is also loved and respected. He surely knows how lucky he is compared to the average joe? He has the resources to make something like this become just another story instead of becoming a life altering event.

    So many in the media and law enforcement spheres are amused by the “harmless” old crooner smoking a little spliff yet they routinely treat the less known as trash.

    While Willie has done a lot for cannabis smokers he can help shine a light on this specific situation.

    Maybe set up a fund that would pay the court costs and fines of all people caught “traveling through,” in this county, or other counties, and who are targeted under “personal use”?

    The truth is. There’s a lot of petty cash to be made by keeping this stuff illegal and such a fund, while helping people, could also help show just how much.

  25. Elizabeth Ramos says:

    COUNTY, guess you’ve smoked one too many that now you can’t even read:) And yes you would be arrested for more than just a misdemeanor in my COUNTY. Oh, and there’s only 1 i in naive – and your it.

  26. Check out the article from the Big Bend Sentinal concerning how stupid even the judge thinks it is to mess with Willie for smoking pot.

  27. Rhayader says:

    Kudos to Mr Bramblett for recognizing that there are better uses of his office’s resources than pursuing extensive punishments for the victimless “crime” of marijuana possession. Neither Willie Nelson nor anybody else should be in trouble with the law because of cannabis, end of story.

  28. J.W. says:

    It’s all well and good that he knows that weed is in fact harmless and did the right thing. However,what will he do to the next guy. What about the guy who loses a months wages and ISN’T a country superstar.Some of us don’t HAVE a bunch of money to throw at these thieves.

  29. Linda says:

    Get a life…

  30. Hypnoswan says:

    corrupt country? Sheesh man you sure are naiive!

  31. Don Dickerson says:

    While I love Willie, this ain’t right. I got busted with .25 oz, I got $500 fine, $2500 in courst costs, 9 months probation… Guess I’m just not rich.

  32. Patts says:

    I just love the Willie Man so much. I am really glad he only got a slap on the rist. They should of gave him back his weed. Also should be paying him to make this little bitty Town Sheriff famous…that’s bulllllllshit! Smoke em if ya got em! Peace!

  33. Bob P. says:

    The War on Drugs is a war on the people. End prohibition. This is waste of money.

  34. Bob says:

    Our Marijuana laws are stupid. Prosecuting people for small amounts of Marijuana is a waste of taxpayers money.

  35. to all those who agree with me,,lets all stand up and march like the great ones do, if you feel the need to get this legalized, then do something about it,dont just sit there, get up and march,,surely you can walk while you’re high,, lets meet on the capital ,, on december 21 2012, we will be the voice that is heard,,,,,,, 4:20 am,,,, be there or be square, dont forget your flags.

  36. Jorj Ammo says:

    Cryyyyyyyyy Me a riverrrrrrrrrrr…..
    Go!!Go!!Go.. snap crackle Pop Willie..

  37. John Langdon says:

    Finally some one who gets it! Congrats to the count attorney Bamblett, and to the judge Becky Walker, it takes guts to stand up and say ENOUGH! I applaud your courage.

    Then there are people or a lame excuse for them like the first commenter E.R. who seems to think that it would be better to lock people up for smoking pot. Just reading her comment made me ask “I wonder how much money she has invested into the prison system”?Then again maybe she works for the DEA,or she or her husband/boyfriend/lover/brother/dad work for the Police in some respect. Just food for thought!

  38. dawn says:

    I could not agree more

  39. dawn says:

    you sound like a baby that needs a binky. Stop crying it is only weed. It grows natural just like an apple. If one is going to be illegal they both should be. And what does it matter to you what kind of a penalty they give him? Are you afraid that he might beat you to the dope mans house? Chill out smoke a doobie, actually inhale and you will see that it is not as bad as the ignorant people in this country believe it is.

  40. Kevin says:

    That’s good, but what they should do is apologize to Willie for bothering him, give him back his cannabis, repeal the anti cannabis laws, and PAY him to sing the song. He did nothing wrong.

  41. rastimmy says:

    He shouldn’t be fined and he shouldn’t have to go to court. No one should, for cannabis. If the judge and DA want to hear Willie sing they should buy a ticket and go to his show.

  42. Bushdoctor says:

    I think you’ve been watching too much ‘Dragnet’. Get a grip lady! Maybe smoke a doobie, fer Dog’s sake.

  43. capkanada says:

    Tab, please? 😉

  44. davidjohnson says:

    “If it’s a misdemeanor amount, like Nelson’s, Bramblett commonly allows them to plead and pay a fine and court costs through the mail.”

  45. Elizabeth Ramos says:

    This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard! Since when does anyone get off this easy, I don’t care who you are or what you need the drugs for! What kind of corrupt county are you? I thought we were trying to keep the drugs out, not give tips on how to downsize your load to make it legal?!

  46. Jason says:

    Great lyrics, Kerry Grombacher. I’d love to hear it.

  47. ron anderson says:

    I am 71 and will you cut me a deal ????? I cannot sing /

  48. jen says:

    thanks for having a heart – God bless Willie – Free the herb – give people their God given medicine – Science proves it cures cancer -see Cancer Gate – one acre = 500 gallons of GAS – here in Utah, its a 3rd degree felony!!!! when not a minute goes by without an arrest – they don’t care about justice – just filling their jails!!! Hemp is from Heaven – it’s not the problem – it’s the cure………..

  49. Meh says:

    How do you spell awesome? B-R-A-M-B-L-E-T-T!

  50. Here’s a tune that I wrote earlier this year. No recording yet, but I’m doing it at shows.

    The Deal that Willie Got

    I want the deal that Willie got
    When he was busted holding pot
    At the Border Patrol checkpoint
    The didn’t throw him in the joint
    They let him climb back on his bus
    That cloud he left sure wasn’t dust
    They could have kept him there to rot
    I want the deal that Willie got

    If you’re driving down the highway
    Interstate or scenic byway
    You might get stopped because you’re speeding
    And pretty soon you’ll be heard pleading
    Mister Sheriff don’t be nervous
    Just give me community service
    I’ll tell my fans ‘bout Toys for Tots
    That’s the deal that Willie got

    From Ray Price to Toby Keith
    He smoked them underneath their seats
    When they finally rose again
    You could hear this stoned refrain
    I want the dealer Willie’s got
    This is sure some righteous pot
    At least that’s what I think I thought
    I want the dealer Willie’s got

    When you’re on the road again
    Passing a doobie with your friends
    If blue lights begin to flash
    And they find your secret stash
    Ask for the deal that Willie got
    He prob’ly got to keep his pot
    Who says that Justice can’t be bought?
    I want the deal that Willie got

    I want the deal that Willie got
    When he was busted holding pot
    At the Border Patrol checkpoint
    The didn’t throw him in the joint
    They let him climb back on his bus
    That cloud he left sure wasn’t dust
    It’s inconvenient to be caught
    The complications can be fraught
    When the going gets too hot
    Tell ‘em thanks, thanks alot
    I want the deal that Willie got

    © 2011 Kerry Grombacher (Ring of Fire Music – BMI)

  51. Paul Barefoot says:

    Right on, HCA Bramblett!

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