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. Luke

    I am tired of anyone saying to legalize marijuanna. You start out with pot and go to bigger things. Get your act together and
    keep it a crime!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  2. Cornea503

    probably the smartest things this man has ever said.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  3. Trey

    Why not get them for free labor(clean a courthouse, freeway, vacant lot) instead we think putting them in jail helps any of us? What a waste of our tax dollars

    December 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  4. FloridaDave

    Finally, something rational from the 700 hundred club. Hurrah!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  5. millandas

    In other news, the first and sixth circles of Hell have been hit by a blinding snowstorm, while circles two through four suffer from golf ball-sized hail.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:03 pm |
  6. stubbycat

    This is probably the first intelligent thing that I've heard Pat Robertson say.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  7. Emerald Laughter

    This may be one of the most sane things Pat Robertson has said in years! Did he have a come to Jesus moment, or did one of his nephews get busted for cannabis? Either way, ( I never thought I'd say this), Pat Robertson is right.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  8. Dianne

    I've never been a user and I agree with Mr. Robertson.
    Lock the real criminals up! Don't punish people for an ounce of pot......fine 'em! PGive them a trial,
    make them pay and place them on probation.
    We're wasting tax dollars and ruining young lives just as he stated!
    I don't understand why people get upset when the truth is the truth!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    "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..."

    The only reason all these mandatory sentences for possessing small amounts of pot were put into place was to benefit the prison industry – which is sucking millions upon millions of dollars from state and federal coffers.

    Think of the educational opportunities and vocational training we could offer young people with that money instead? Not to mention how much good those millions would do if used for rehab and drug use prevention outreach.

    I'd much rather spend money on helping people than helping the prison industry ...

    December 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  10. mtnmedic

    That's about the first thing to come out of his mouth that actually makes sense and has any positive meaning. He may be totally anti-drug, but even HE is starting to realize that throwing the book at people who possess minute amounts of pot is destructive and a waste of resources.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  11. Melissa

    I'm shocked! I can't believe I actually agree with him on something!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  12. WhatThe...

    I agree. And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to vomit and take a dozen showers. Can't... scrub... off... like-mindedness with this guy. Need... more soap.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  13. Chris

    Amen Pat!!! I like Pat Robertson. A lot of people on here say what a lunatic he is and that they can't stand him. The reason for that is because of the evil in this world. People hate anything to do with God and people who support it. GO PAT!!!!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  14. Liberal and Proud of It

    Pat, you are right on!

    Free Mary Jane!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  15. hollaturgirl

    Tony: you're right on target with this one; alcohol & tobacco are far more dangerous and/or lethal than marijuana, given the drug is used in proper context(no chemicals or additives). Hurray! for Pat!!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  16. Will

    I don't spend my hard earned money on pot or tobacco, and rarely consume alcohol. I see all those things as life non-essentials. However, far be it from me to criticize anyone who does use any of those substances responsibly. It is the irresponsible and authoritarian people who shine a negative light on any kind of use of these substances.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  17. THC

    Pat uses the Bill Clinton method... He doesn't inhale... But I DO!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  18. random

    Most of you when you die will be made aware that you've lived sad, degenerate lives. Prisons are money generating enterprises now. Locking up ppl for years for smoking marijuana is a fraud, and those who profited in destroying these innocent lives will burn. So I ask all you little minded ppl out there who feel smoking marijuana should put you in jail: how do you feel about burning too?

    December 24, 2010 at 12:08 pm |
  19. Faisal

    unfortunately he is deceived. the Lord is severely against the abomination of smoking marijuana as it is deeply and widely understood as an evil thing to do by anyone who truly knows the truth. It is considered sorcery and definitely not something a man of the Lord should condone, in fact, a man of the Lord should not at all take part in worldly affairs but leave it to the hypocrites to take the stage.. the hirelings

    December 24, 2010 at 12:05 pm |
  20. piluso


    December 24, 2010 at 11:55 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.