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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. John Steel

    Ironically, what is bringing far right nutters like Pat around is the realization of how much money they are paying to arrest, prosecute and imprison drug users and dealers. Morality is one thing when it is free, but when their desires to tell others how to live their lives start costing big bucks, that is another matter altogether.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  2. tyrone shoelaces

    american taliban yo!

    December 24, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  3. GeorgeBos95

    I have no problem agreeing with Robertson when he's right – as he is in this case.

    I'd like to believe this is a softening in the heart of a man who has so often been harsh and judgmental of those whose lifestyle he disagrees with.

    I'm happy to encourage any positive steps taken by most anyone.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  4. Nicoli Pi

    For once, I agree with Pat!

    December 24, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  5. no one's homeboy

    Form ONCE the old coot had something decent to say...

    December 24, 2010 at 10:45 am |
  6. tyrone shoelaces

    i'm really questioning god's judgement it these are the loons he picks to carry his message...

    December 24, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  7. Jeffer65

    As shocking as some people will think this is, Robertson is right. Some murderers get less than ten years, when they should get more.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  8. Josie

    For once he says something I have to agree with and have been saying for years. I know felons for that very reason, yet they had good paying jobs, nothing else on their record and are wonderful people. They just decided to go home and take a few hits to relaxe! It's stupid really. But then again drinking and driving is finally getting to that (which needed to be done).

    Maybe ones like my aunt and uncle might change their mind now that their "leaders" are saying this...but not going to hold my breath.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  9. jim

    I wonder when old Pat started hitting the bong!

    December 24, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  10. jim

    Isn't it about time Beelzebub called him home for his reward for lifelong, faithful service?

    December 24, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  11. Dave

    Here's the first time I've said THESE words in my life: Right on, Pat Robertson.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  12. Thatguy371

    Robertson does have a point. We spend way too much money on imprisoning people for minor offenses, including these charges. With our severe deficits, that's the last thing we need to be throwing away money on.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  13. La

    It isn't necessary to degrade someone before you offer an opinion. It doesn't validate your thoughts. It makes you appear to be petty and ignorant yourself. Plus you aren't even listening to reason because of your vindictivness. He is making very valid points about the justice system in our nation and quite frankly its about time this subject hit the mainstream...including and maybe especially from those who hope to provide moral guidance in these times. I honestly believe that the majority of this nation feels exactly the same way. So let's just stick to the facts of this situation and come together to find resolution.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  14. cwgriswold

    Wow. The first and only smart thing I have ever heard Pat Robertson say. I am stunned.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  15. Jerry Hoefen

    pot doset kill people but alcohol an tabco does best two forms birth an population control e have, not to mention leading revenue for taxs

    December 24, 2010 at 10:22 am |
    • La

      Buy a dictionary and learn how to use a spell check Jerry. To write-speak in public requires at least the acknowledgement of those two things. Thankyou for evolving.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  16. Jerry Hoefen

    hey Alcohol an tobaco best form birth control we have ,nott o mention controlling population . Pot doesnt kill people so we cant have that legal might ruin the taxs for other two

    December 24, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  17. KeithTexas

    The lock them up politicians have ruined this country it will take generations to heal the damage when we finally start trying. What will finally have to happen first is for the states to go broke trying to feed all the prisoners, then they will be forced to make different choices.

    We now live in the largest police state in the world. At their very worst Communist China or Russia never held as many prisoners as we have today in America. America is only 5% of the world population but we hold 25% of the world’s prisoners.

    You don't have to be very smart to see that something is wrong with that. An introductory course in Statists will show you that it is pretty much impossible for us to have that many bad people in our country. The Industrial Prison complex is getting just as powerful as the Military complex. The recent immigration law in Arizona was written by the prison lobbyist.

    I think pot smokers are stupid and deluded but I don't believe they belong in prison. Perhaps in the forty five years or so that I have observed Pat Robinson say stupid stuff maybe this if the first time he made any sense. Maybe he is toking a few himself.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:16 am |
  18. Gary

    As an agnostic of all religions I do try to respect religious folks. My parents ,wife and kids are all very religious. No one turns me away from religion more than evangelicals. Pat Robertson Jimmy Swaggert,Jim bakker, Oral Roberts,David Koresh,Benny Hinn, Td Jakes and the rest of the obnoxious liars make me sick.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:11 am |
    • La

      Uhh, this really wasn't about you Gary.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  19. BH

    WOW...PR finally, after all these years, made sense! Now if we could only get his followers behind him. Unfortunately, after the man honestly spoke his mind and made some sense, the hard core conservatives at CBN treated it as though he had made an error. They instantly started in with the damage control press releases. How sad that Pat is being censured by his own people when he is the face of the organization!

    December 24, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  20. Dee

    I don't know why people assume that all conservative Christians would be FOR the criminalization of marijuana. I hate what drugs has done to our society, and I am extremely Christian ... but putting people in jail is not the answer. The criminalization of anything you can grow in your back yard is ridiculous. Regulate it, tax it, grow it, and you will shut down the criminal element that capitalizes on it, smuggling it across our boarders. Then we can make room in our prison system for real criminals, save money, and generate funds for rehab programs, and education. Think of the lives that have been ruined or set back because of a college kids indiscretion with pot use. Young and dumb and they pay for it for the rest of their lives? We raised 3 children on bible principle, including our views on social problems. Our "liberal" views regarding the decriminalization of drugs has produced no negative blow back, all three have nothing to do with pot or drugs, and are living healthy full lives. So before any one rolls over in shock because of what Pat Robertson has said, realize this- Unless you know us, you don't know us. The so called moral majority may surprise you if you would stop hating us for one moment, and try to have a conversation.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:03 am |
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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.