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. Grego

    Marijuana is a flower. It's part of nature. Nature comes from God. Why in the world would Man want to outlaw part of nature? It doesn't even remotely make sense.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:51 am |
  2. Al

    Tony .... some people are obsessed with running everyone else's lives by their rules. Figuring out good rules for yourself to live by is tough enough without bothering to try and force everybody else to live by your standards ! When anyone thinks they know what is best for you, that is sufficient reason to question what they have to say. It is never in your best interests to listen to them. Think for yourself !

    December 24, 2010 at 11:48 am |
  3. Gumby


    December 24, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  4. w l jones

    The best way to reduce the amount of marijuana people use, place it in every government branch office where everybody have to sign for it free. The best policy is no policy.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:45 am |
  5. There are no gods!

    I think some of you didnt read the whole article. I guess when you see Pat Robertson like I did your stomach turns and you like me instinctively think that what the guy says is all bad. If you read the article to the end you will see he is against locking up people for a mandatory amount of time stating that it is a waste of a human life to do this making the person harder and more irrational when they do come out of prison. I believe this is the first thing Pat has ever said that has made sense to me. Could he be actually using his brain for once?

    December 24, 2010 at 11:44 am |
  6. dre8791

    Hell did freeze over! I have new founded respect for the man. Sooner or later marijuana WILL BE LEGAL! With the turn of a new generation more people will be open-minded to decriminalization of marijuana. Say it ain't so Pat, say it ain't so.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  7. Jeff

    These are the FIRST words that have come out this guy's mouth that I AGREE with! Did someone whack him over the head with some sense?

    December 24, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  8. DenverVet

    This man knows how to sway minds, he probably said this so that people would tune in to his horrible show. Think of all the other "hurtful" stuff he has said over the years and that will put this latest comment in to prospective. I also don't believe his comment about people taking two puffs of pot going to prison for 10 years......I was a cop back in the day, doesn't happen. This man is dangerous, take what he says in stride and then RUN!!!!!!!!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  9. Rhaptoad

    There should be a mandatory jail sentence for kids who walk around with their underwear showing.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  10. canuck

    Just another Hypo-Christian (hypocrite)

    December 24, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  11. lance corporal

    wow even a complete lunatic like robertson can see the stoopidity of our laws on ganja....

    December 24, 2010 at 11:33 am |
  12. CyKell

    There has to be profit involved in this for him somewhere. Is he getting ready to market his own brand of Holy Smoke? There is no other plausable reason for him to speak sanity.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:28 am |
  13. Bob Bichen

    Holy cow! I actually agree with something Pat Robertson said? Just goes to show I guess.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  14. jammy

    Wow! only a couple of jabs at W, this time wow you libs Jews are really forgetting the root of all evil W. not pot W. not rapist W. Shame on you lib. Jews there should more blaming of W. here what is wrong with you jews!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 11:17 am |
  15. Paulie

    Its kind of genius in his part. Now the republicans and democrats are in a race to see who decriminalizes an ounce of weed first, The ones that do will win the 2012 elections and republicans have the lead, the house majority and at the moment are more popular and making more popular decisions. Way more people like pot than being gay or the military.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  16. GuitarHarry

    I guess in his old age, Robertson is starting to mellow some...this is the first thing I have heard this man say where I agreed with him. It just underscores the point that criminilzing possession of weed is detrimental to society. It is time to move on from the anti-drug hysteria that has ruled the politcal discourse for the last 80 years.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  17. HOLY420

    Forgot what I was going to say....

    December 24, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  18. docjay

    I have never read so much misinterpretation and Pat bashing in my life. Pat says something about lessening the pot possession charge and everyone goes crazy. Pat may not be the best representation of a Christian standard but what he is saying makes much more sense than you Christian haters out there. He is simply trying to weigh the time with the crime. A person having a couple of drinks should not be lumped in with a habitual DUI offender. Pot should be compared with alcohol (personally I think pot is less hamful than alcohol). They both alter the conscience state of mind but alcohol cause people to become more aggressive and brings out the worst in people...pot just melows people out. my 2 cents

    December 24, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  19. Catfish

    Wait, did hell just freeze over or something? This guy actually said something smart??? It is a true Christmas miracle!

    December 24, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  20. Dave

    Is Pat secretly trying to convert fans of the Greatful Dead? I think he's a closet pot head personally.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:55 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.