A long rumored story about marijuana’s most famous moment in the White House was confirmed by the former President himself.
Between the nation-shifting administrations of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter’s presidency is sometimes lost in the historical shuffle. But like the recent example of Barack Obama, Carter used pop culture to endear himself to voters. If Obama was America’s first hip-hop president, Carter was our first rock n’ roll president.
A new documentary called Jimmy Carter: Rock N’ Roll President will be released this September and explores that very relationship. In the documentary’s trailer, Carter says things like, “Bob Dylan has been one of my best friends, along with Willie Nelson.”
Carter also confirmed the rumors about marijuana’s most famous moment in the White House — the time Willie Nelson smoked a joint with the President’s son atop the White House roof.
“When Willie Nelson wrote his autobiography, he confessed he smoked pot in the White House,” Carter says. “He says that his companion was one of the servants in the White House. Actually, it was one of my sons.”
Contrary to what you might expect, Nelson had hidden this nugget back when he wrote his 1988 autobiography. He describes sitting atop the White House roof late at night “with a beer in one hand and a fat Austin Torpedo in the other.” Nelson mentions a “companion on the roof” but doesn’t identify the person by name.
The truth started to slip out in the 21st century, first with “Willie Nelson: An Epic Life,” a biography written by Joe Nick Patoski. Nelson “climbed on the roof of the White House and smoked a joint with one of the Carter boys,” Patoski wrote.
Savvy individuals started putting two and two together and realized exactly which Carter boy smoked a joint with Nelson — Chip Carter, Jimmy’s middle son. Chip had developed a personal friendship with NORML founder Keith Stroup and was “a marijuana smoker himself,” Stroup wrote in a recent article.
That fact was confirmed in a 2015 Willie Nelson profile by GQ. Journalist Chris Heath pressed Nelson about the rumors and the country singer finally gave up the ghost — yes, he smoked a joint with Chip on the White House roof. “It ain’t something you want to brag about, you know,” Nelson said.
Heath went one step further and called Chip (who now goes by James Early Carter III), who told him that Nelson had insisted keeping this story secret all those years.
“Well, he told me not to ever tell anybody,” Carter said.
Thanks to none other than his own dad, everyone will now be reminded of the truth — that a President’s son smoked a joint on the White House roof with cannabis icon Willie Nelson. And no one got in trouble for almost 50 years. As Nelson jokes in his autobiography, “I guess the roof of the White House is the safest place to smoke dope.”