Pat Robertson's marijuana remarks cause stir
December 23rd, 2010
04:15 PM ET

Pat Robertson's marijuana remarks cause stir

By Alan Silverleib, CNN

The Rev. Pat Robertson - a longtime fixture in Christian conservative politics - is drawing attention for questioning an article of faith among many Republicans: mandatory prison sentences for certain marijuana-related crimes.

Some pot legalization advocates noted that Robertson also appeared to question the criminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana - a position later denied in a written statement released by his media outlet, the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"It got to be a big deal in campaigns," Robertson said on the December 16 edition of his show "The 700 Club." "Lock 'em up, you know. That's the way these guys ran, and they got elected. But that wasn't the answer."

Robertson said there is "something else we've got to recognize. We're locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana and the next thing they know they've got 10 years. They've got mandatory sentences and these judges just ... throw up their hands and say there's nothing we can do."

"We've got to take a look at what we're considering crimes and that's one of them," Robertson added. "I'm not exactly for the use of drugs. Don't get me wrong. But I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of a few ounces of pot and that kind of thing, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people."

They go into prison "as youths and they come out as hardened criminals, and that's not a good thing."

Chris Roslan, a CBN spokesman, insisted Thursday that Robertson "did not call for the decriminalization of marijuana. He was advocating that our government revisit the severity of the existing laws because mandatory drug sentences do harm to many young people who go to prison and come out as hardened criminals."

The famous television pastor "was also pointing out that these mandatory sentences needlessly cost our government millions of dollars when there are better approaches available. ... Dr. Robertson unequivocally stated that he is against the use of illegal drugs."

Roslan noted that Robertson's remarks followed a CBN story about the value of faith-based prisoner rehabilitation programs.

Robertson, who has made a number of controversial statements in the past, used his television presence to become a major power broker in GOP politics for a period of time. He ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, stunning observers by finishing ahead of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in that year's Iowa caucuses.

Most conservative officeholders continue to back both strong anti-drug laws and mandatory prison sentences for certain crimes. Some, however, have questioned the value of such stances, particularly in the wake of rising prison populations and expenses.

Some conservative libertarians - such as former New Mexico GOP Gov. Gary Johnson - have called for the legalization of marijuana.

A ballot initiative in California this year would have allowed adult possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure was defeated by a 54-to-46 ratio.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Politics • TV

soundoff (511 Responses)
  1. Rumple Stiltskin

    Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll be Sarah Palin's running mate in 2012.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  2. jbloe

    For once I agree with Pat Robertson. Miracles do happen.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:59 am |
  3. JJ

    So, now that he's getting closer to being recalled by his maker, NOW he grows a conscience?

    December 24, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  4. Marc

    We Athiests welcome all that want to finally dump the belief of the judeo-christian fairy tale and join us realists. We promise you can still celebrate x-mas as long as you don't go to church

    December 24, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  5. michael nugent

    Amen Reverend, Amen!

    December 24, 2010 at 9:45 am |
  6. Marie MD

    I would think that after the stupid remarks about what the devil said to the Haitians that he would have slithered away, but then . . . . . . the she devil did visit Haiti so many he is now crawling back?
    Who cares what this moron says?

    December 24, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  7. hisshadow

    what the hell... after years of waiting for this man to drop dead.. he finally says something good and worthwhile? amen pat !! keep up the good work man !!

    December 24, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  8. Judy Stah

    Wow!! FINALLY getting some good ol' common sense from a "conservative"!! I couldn't agree more with PR. I'm 63, a special education teacher ,and BELIEVE ME.. the punishment is the true harm from marijuana. One is no more likely to move on to other drugs than one is likely to become an alcoholic....some few unfortunate people just have addictive tendencies but most handle pot/alcohol just fine!! Let's legalize it and move on! Pat is my knew BFF!!

    December 24, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  9. Dominic

    This is the smartest thing Pat Robertson has ever said....ever

    December 24, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  10. Arthur

    Conservatives are supposed to embody the more-freedom-by-less-government-in-our-lives concept. How did they ever get in bed with these religious kooks? Fewer laws until it comes to something like recreational drug use or anything that encroaches on their "good Christian morals". Then it is legislation time. Remember that Jesse Helms nutcase and the "squesl law"? Fewer laws and more personal freedom, my ass.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  11. DevildDog

    Don't know who this man is but he is absolutely correct. As long as a citizen is not harming another citizen, robbing or putting someone in danger the government should not tell it's citizens how to spend their leisure time. It's pure hypocrisy. You may drink beer, and hard liquor but you may not smoke a plant because we can't tax it.

    December 24, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  12. cavemanstyle

    You want to know what lawmakers are all afraid of??? I'll tell you.... They're scared that they're going to legalize marijuana, and then all the people that they put in jail for such a petty thing for YEARS, might I add, is now a legal thing to possess, and then all of those that were put in jail for it would have to have a reprieve and let out of jail. THAT'S what they're all afraid of... and THAT'S why they won't legalize it. I think these lawmakers need to be ashamed of themselves for slamming people behind bars for such a petty drug.. dude, go catch the crackhead's and the Meth freaks.. leave the potheads alone !!!! Your cigarette's are WAY WAY worse for human health anyways.. I don't know if you've checked lately... but Marijuana is used for MEDICINAL PURPOSES !!!! AND ... THE INDIANS WHO WE ALL SLAUGHTERED USED IT ON A DAILY BASIS. Ya'll need to wake up and get with the program and realize that was a freedom that was stolen from us, and we need to get it back... some of the politicians are straight up idiots ... and they're too ignorant to realize it. .. WAKE UP AMERICA !

    December 24, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  13. Bob in Fla

    This is the first time Robertson has made sense in at least 30 years, I wonder if maybe he wasn't mis-quoted?

    December 24, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  14. romewasntburnedinanight

    Looks like Pat got hit by a big Light. Keep on this path Pat, you're going to see just how nasty and hypocritical the people that run this country are. Have a look at Sallie-mae. Slavery's back in style. Who is your brother?

    December 24, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  15. ron finn

    I cannot believe that I actually agree with him.
    Our country wastes more money on BS than any other civilized country in the world.

    December 24, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  16. Mark from Minnetonka, MN

    I agree with this guy!

    December 24, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  17. zeke

    Light up with Pat!!

    December 24, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  18. oldbones2

    Nothing God puts on this earth for us should be illegal in its natural form.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:58 am |
  19. Faber McMullen

    I don't think we're agreeing with him. I think maybe he's finally waking up from a long dream and agreeing with some of us. I am a non-pot smoking conservative libertarian who thinks we should have decriminalized pot a long time ago. Let's prosecute other things that really do have an ill effect on society.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:53 am |
  20. MojoHotep

    Well, even a BROKEN clock/watch is right twice a day!!

    December 24, 2010 at 7:25 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.