Legendary singer and songwriter Willie Nelson will disagree if you tell him smoking pot or cigarettes could lead to stronger drug addictions.
"I will be the first to say that's wrong, you know. I think it eliminates other addictions for me, and I can only speak for myself," Nelson said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."
In his new memoir, "It's a Long Story," the 82-year-old writes about his relationship to pot as a "love affair" that "became a long-term marriage" and a friend who has never betrayed him.
"I think it calms me down. I used to drink a lot. I used to smoke a lot of cigarettes," Nelson said. "Now I don't. So I think substituting pot for cigarettes and alcohol, it was a smart choice."
Not a smart one for everyone, he clarified.
"Underage children shouldn't be putting anything in their lungs - pot smoke or cigarette smoke or any other kind of smoke if they can help it," Nelson said. "It's not good for their lungs and probably not good for their brains. Let their brains get a little smarter before they start trying things. And I think that's why you need to be an adult to make those decisions."
Not only does he think the whole country should legalize marijuana, but he also thinks the U.S. will do so in less than five years.
"Once all the so-called smart people see the money, see the bottom line, look at Colorado, Washington, Oregon, they say, 'Wait a minute, we're losing out,'" Nelson said.
Nelson has always been a musical outlaw. He was inspired by blues, jazz, gospel, honky tonk and the '60s hippy movement, so he created a sound all of his own and revolutionized country music.
For six decades, Nelson has marched to the beat of his own guitar. Along the way, he released nearly 200 albums, earned seven Grammys and a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame, reports "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King.
But in 1960, Nelson was just a dirt-poor Texas boy who found his way to the music mecca of Nashville. There, he wrote hit song after hit song for other performers, including "Crazy" for Patsy Cline. But Nelson's unique rhythm -- singing slightly before or behind the beat -- didn't synch with Nashville's slick mainstream sound.
It was only when he returned to Texas and really let his hair down, that he found his own voice.
In 1975, "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" earned Nelson his first No. 1 spot on the charts. The hits kept coming, and "Always on my Mind" spent 21 weeks on the Billboard charts.
"I get so much out of playing music that there's a huge reward just playing music and to be able to play for a big crowd who enjoys what you're doing and who pay a lot of money and drive a lot of miles to come see you," Nelson said. "So I think there's a great energy exchange that takes place when anybody, when any artist is performing for an audience."
Nelson's free spirit was instrumental in shaping the "outlaw country" genre.
He's also had his fair share of troubles. In his memoir, Nelson talks about his battles with the IRS.
"I had some bad advice and took the advice and wound up owing the IRS a lot of money," he said.
"In round figures," he said he owed them about $32 million.
"Everyone was advising me to go bankrupt. And avoid the debt. But also it meant avoiding all other debts that you had and cheating all those people out there that you owed money to besides the IRS and I didn't want to do that," Nelson said.
Now, 32 years after the duet "Pancho and Lefty," Nelson is teaming up again with longtime friend Merle Haggard for their new studio album, "Django and Jimmie," which will be released June 2.
"I wonder how I made it this far," Nelson said, reflecting on his career.