On Friday, October 6th, 2006 the New York Post (see article on right) reported that French authorities seized more than 100 tablets of the club drug Ecstasy from Jimmy Buffett’s luggage when he arrived for departure at the Toulon-Hyères International Airport in southern France.

The incident was reported in many media outlets, but was quickly refuted by Jimmy in a statement posted on his website:

I have tried over the years, to live below the radar when it comes to the “celebrity” thing. I see what I do as just a job, a really fun job that has opened the world, its people and places. However, I seem to still have a way of causing commotion now and then.

In Toulon, we arrived at the private terminal to leave and were moving through security, when my captain informed me that we were being ramp checked by French customs and some plainclothes guys. This is nothing new but what was strange was that the search was being conducted as we were leaving – not as we were arriving. No big deal – I thought. I found my bag and opened it up and they went right for a little pouch which contained my prescription medicines which was sitting on top of my clothes, not the most secretive part of my bag. I don’t know about you, but at a few months away from turning sixty, I carry a few prescriptions, including a B vitamin supplement, called Foltx.

Well, that’s the one that deflated the party balloon for when they examined them you could see a heart on the pill. “Ecstasy,” they said. I have never taken it and couldn’t tell you the difference between a hit of ecstasy and Excedrin PM. My vices these days consist of boat drinks, beer, wine and the occasional hot fudge sundae. I hadn’t even opened the bottle, because my secretary had made a mistake and had sent the wrong prescription. I don’t use Foltx any more.

I knew Foltx was a vitamin supplement not a love drug. I paid the fine, gathered my bags and my friends and as soon as they opened that door, I walked, rather rapidly towards my plane and flew out.

In Toulon, the stern faced authorities couldn’t take the truth as the simple answer to a few simple questions, trying to turn vitamins into ecstasy. In these days and times, the truth sadly gets lost in the gossip at an alarming rate.

In the end, I will just chalk it up as being something that will happen if you have an adventurous soul and live a nomad life. I will, as my old hero Mark Twain put it, be “lighting out into the territory”. The great old humorist Lord Richard Buckley used to say in one of his routines that humor is the absence of terror and that terror is the absence of humor. It seems there are too many people in the world intent on building fences, not bridges between cultures and fueling misinformation with heightened suspicions and senseless interrogations. I never was, nor do I ever intend to answer to or become one of those people. I will take my cue from Lord Buckley and keep on singing and laughing. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

On October 10th, the New York Post ran a story detailing Buffett’s statement and denial of having Ecstasy: “Buffett Rips Drug-Dumb French”.

In another article, Buffett described the situation as both “amusing and frightening.” “They hauled me into the interrogation room, and I figured I was going to jail. They were not kidding around.”

The misunderstanding was cleared up and Buffett was cleared to leave the country with only a fine for not carrying his prescription. He was, however, disappointed by erroneous press reports about the incident.

“The great thing about it is I was totally innocent,” he said.

Buffett said the incident sparked some song ideas, including “Too Long in Toulon” and “Bad News Can Spoil Your Breakfast,” the latter inspired by an e-mail from Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart.

Buffett’s sister Lucy, owner of LuLu’s at Homeport restaurant, posted her comments about the incident on her website. Click here to read.

New York Post
October 6th, 2006

Forget Margaritaville – French authorities reportedly seized more than 100 tabs of club drug “ecstasy” from Jimmy Buffett’s luggage this week.

The Grammy-winning singer got into trouble when he flew into Toulon-Hyères International Airport in the South of France on a rented private jet and customs officials started poking around in his suitcases. According to local press reports, they uncovered more than 100 tablets of the mind-bending substance.

Buffett, who was on his way to chill out in the ritzy resort town of St. Tropez, was detained, but not arrested, and allowed to go free after paying a fine of 300 euros – about $380. That prompted one local newspaper editorial to term the slap-on-the-wrist punishment “a small amount for a man who makes $70 million a year.”

A spokeswoman for Buffett – whose hits include “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” – denied he’d had any ecstasy in the luggage. The rep insisted, “It was medicine prescribed by his doctor.” But she wouldn’t name the medicine or what ailment Buffett was using it for. She also refused to comment on why, if the substance was legally prescribed, Buffett agreed to pay the fine.

“I don’t have any additional information,” the flak said. Asked to contact Buffett to ask him about the incident, she said, “It’s not going to be possible.” She also insisted the cops seized only 20 tablets, not the reported 100-plus.

Regardless, Buffett was lucky his alleged stash wasn’t discovered in the United States, where a conviction can lead to a prison sentence and fines of up to $100,000. But the singer has had bad luck involving narcotics in the past. Ten years ago, a boat he and Bono were on near the coast of Jamaica was fired on by police who mistook them for drug traffickers.

Meanwhile, the crooner, 59, a distant relative of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, will release his newest album, “Take the Weather With You,” next week. Last month, he did a fund-raiser for Kinky Friedman’s Texas gubernatorial campaign.