It‚Äôs a triple-digit afternoon at Willie Nelson‚Äôs 4th of July Picnic and I can‚Äôt wait to get into the air conditioning of Willie‚Äôs bus. You know the bus: holy ground, a rite of passage, one of the most notorious tour vehicles to ever endlessly crisscross American highways: the Honeysuckle Rose. But that‚Äôs not the Willie bus I‚Äôm getting on.
This bus looks similar to the Honeysuckle Rose ‚Äď sans the exterior mural of horses running a mountainous train. It certainly smells similar to the Honeysuckle Rose. It‚Äôs often parked in proximity to the Honeysuckle Rose, but it‚Äôs not the Honeysuckle Rose. This is the Willie‚Äôs Remedy bus, a promotional RV that currently goes wherever Willie Nelson & the Family Band are playing, spreading the gospel of the country hero‚Äôs expanding line of CBD products.
On this day, the bus actually carrying Nelson hasn‚Äôt yet arrived to the Circuit of the Americas, but his secondary promotional bus seems to be a popular backstage attraction. Young Canadian folksinger Colter Wall is stepping off as I step on and the motor coach is bustling with people buzzing on cups of Willie‚Äôs Remedy coffee ‚Äď comprised of CBD sourced from Colorado-grown organic hemp that‚Äôs bonded to the essential fatty acids in Colombian coffee beans during roasting.
On the Remedy bus sits Devin Jamroz, whose scrappy small business was miraculously transformed by Willie and his wife Annie Nelson.
In 2014, shortly after discovering the healing properties of cannabis while treating a herniated disc in his back, Jamroz and his roommate began experimenting with infusing coffee with THC out of their Colorado home. It was as DIY an effort as you might imagine: roasting coffee in a stovetop popcorn popper, then running into the backyard and pouring the still-smoking beans into a colander, while spritzing it with a marijuana tincture.
At the beginning they made a lot of admittedly bad coffee, but continually refined the process until they were making excellent coffee ‚Äď the kind of stuff that even impresses coffee snobs and professional roasters. When the CBD market got interesting, Jamroz shifted focus away from THC and began selling bags of CBD-infused whole roasted coffee beans online. Starting out, business was slow; a really good week would see $90 in sales.
‚ÄúThen there was this random customer online named Annie Nelson, who we didn‚Äôt know from ‚ÄėAnnie Whoever,‚Äô‚ÄĚ recalls Jamroz. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôd occasionally have orders from her that were five times what we would do in a really good month. She‚Äôd order 10 pounds and we‚Äôd wonder, ‚ÄėWho is this saint?‚Äô She‚Äôd have it shipped all over the country; we‚Äôd ship it to Texas, we‚Äôd ship it to Hawaii. It was the weirdest thing, this woman buying so much coffee, and we‚Äôre shipping it to random places.‚ÄĚ
This went on for years. Annie would even send what Jamroz called ‚Äúsecret agents‚ÄĚ or ‚Äúghost buyers‚ÄĚ to trade shows and buy huge amounts of coffee. Eventually one of them spilled the beans on who Annie Nelson was and that her husband, iconic musician and transcendent toker Willie Nelson, was an avid drinker of Jamroz‚Äôs CBD coffee.
‚ÄúWe almost fell out of our chairs,‚ÄĚ he remembers.
Now that coffee serves as the the flagship product of Willie‚Äôs Remedy, a growing line of CBD products rolled out since February. It‚Äôs a sister brand to Willie‚Äôs Reserve, which formed in 2014 and began selling adult-use cannabis two years later.
On the bus, I quickly down four cups of iced coffee. I‚Äôm a moderate ‚Äď all right, heavy ‚Äď THC user and I don‚Äôt want the positive effects of CBD coffee to get lost in the shuffle of other cannabinoids in my system. It‚Äôs a palatable brew; medium dark roast with an exquisitely balanced flavor. The most incredible thing about it: The CBD really balances out the caffeine. You can drink it ad infinitum and not get jittery.
It‚Äôs by no means a whopping dose of CBD. I‚Äôve in the past experimented with putting a several-hundred-milligram CBD squirt of tincture under my tongue, which ushers an immediate and undeniable effect. Elizabeth Hogan, who co-founded Willie‚Äôs Reserve/Remedy with the Nelsons and Willie‚Äôs longtime manager Mark Rothbaum, explains that they view the 10mg dose as ‚Äúdaily supplement model‚ÄĚ ‚Äď good for more minor ailments and regular use.
That suits Willie. She characterizes he and Annie as ‚Äúnight owls‚ÄĚ and says Willie will drink coffee long after most people go to bed.
Opening a jar of the WIllie‚Äôs Remedy Full Spectrum Soothing Balm, a shea butter/coconut oil/CBD mixture that I later rub on my knee to effectively alleviate post-basketball joint pain, I ask Hogan how seriously involved Willie actually is in the product line that bears his name.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs very involved,‚ÄĚ she insists. ‚ÄúFirst, it‚Äôs about his values: personal freedom, medical efficacy and advocacy, agricultural and environmental impact, and, finally, social justice ‚Äď never looking away from the fact that there are people still sitting in jail for what we can now legally sell.
‚ÄúHe also calls himself the ‚ÄėChief Tester.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Hogan says that when she gets on Willie‚Äôs bus, he‚Äôs always eager to know what products they‚Äôre going to test.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not going to lie, he loves all of it. He‚Äôs not a scientist, he‚Äôs a musician and a poet, but in terms of how to appreciate it: The man has a lot to teach us all.‚ÄĚ
In the week following the Picnic, I‚Äôve been engaged in a practice that‚Äôs totally foreign to me: drinking hot tea ‚Äď specifically Willie‚Äôs Remedy loose leaf green tea, also infused with full-spectrum hemp oil. When steeped for two minutes (I‚Äôve learned that over-steeping causes green tea to turn bitter), it‚Äôs a pleasant, natural-tasting beverage that accentuates the benefit of low-dose CBD that I find most rewarding: relaxation and relief from stress.
While the Willie‚Äôs Remedy line, especially the tea, are obviously coming from a wellness market angle, I also consider THC a wellness supplement and I can attest ‚Äď from personal experience ‚Äď that the Willie‚Äôs Reserve line, which includes flower, distillate cartridges, live resin carts, candies, and chocolates, are quality products worth seeking out when in states with recreational marijuana programs.
In an age when stoney artists are capitalizing off their cannabis clout ‚Äď B-Real of Cypress Hill has dispensaries and Damian Marley sells branded herb and cartridges ‚Äď Willie Nelson remains among the most bankable musicians in the marijuana market, and for good reason.
‚ÄúWillie Nelson has been consistent about cannabis and human beings‚Äô right to the plant for more than 50 years, and he‚Äôs been wise about it, and he‚Äôs been a wise-ass about it, and he‚Äôs accepted every type of conversation from every political angle, and he‚Äôs been polite about that,‚ÄĚ Hogan offers. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs made it an agricultural issue: He talks about hemp, talks about the fact that it‚Äôs a plant and needs to be treated like a plant. I think being that consistent for so long has created an association with every aspect of the plant that people can really trust. As he says, he‚Äôs the canary for a lifetime of cannabis use.‚ÄĚ
Willie‚Äôs Remedy coffees and teas are available locally at Salt & Time and can be ordered through their website.