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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 Briffaux

    Wow could it be that there is a "Dude" inside the reverend....now i know everything is possible.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  2. J100409

    This is news because he is a leading figure amongst a block of voters who have historically been hostile to reconsidering and reforming this area of the law (except to the extent that continually increasing support for doing more of the same thing is "reconsidering and reforming.")

    December 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  3. Brian Paul

    I agree with Mr. Robinson completely, I am a conservative for all practical purposes and I think it is about time that our government wakes up. I'm no pot head by any means, but I sure have enough common sense to know that pot is close to harmless in our society. It's much safer than alcohol!!! There are leaders in congress that know this to be true and they know our laws make no sense at all. They are to afraid to vote to decriminalize it because they are spineless and they know the next time they are up for election their opponent will try and take them to town on their stance. WEAK! Our government is loaded with spineless people.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
    • common sense

      we agree, as I said above. Let those spineless folks pay my portion of the taxes to put some caught w/pot in jail. And they can pay for the crimes they do when they leave. Rev. Robinson has a spine!

      December 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  4. civicminded

    The 700 Club will now be The 420 Club. By the way, this is the 420th comment on this page! Coincidence?

    December 24, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  5. davem

    Heaven forbid an actual Christian preach forgiveness. The horror, the horror.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  6. common sense

    Having seen the 60's to now, I agree w/Roberston. No I don't smoke nor do I drink. Just tired of paying taxes to support a prison business that puts, most likely, honest otherwise taxpaying citizens in the wrong place with the wrong people to become more bitter and learn the wrong things, so when released, they're bitter and doing worse things. Personally, simply tax and regulate. Some will not agree, oh well, then you can pay my portion of taxes too! Good for you Rev. Robertson!!

    December 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  7. TonyL

    The nation is pretty much bankrupt and 46 states are in the same situation to go bankrupt soon. There is no money in the coffers to hold prisoners and spend money on them specially with non violent crimes. In fact there is no money for even holding people with violent crimes. It cost billions to incarcerate these people. Where do we generate the money to continue to hold these criminals and provide all the goodies required by the law?

    December 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  8. jon

    Great to see that even conservative Christians are beginning to see the light. You who don't agree-GET OVER IT. weed isn't that bad!!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  9. Bob

    In this photo, Robertson looks like he's letting rip a huge fart, and the man behind in sunglasses doesn't look to pleased.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  10. Shelly

    I am sick and tired of these recantations. If what is said is what is meant, let the chips fall where they may. I agree with Pat 100%. They should legalize the drugs that are costing so many people their lives and collect excise taxes like they do with alcohol and tobacco!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  11. SPLAT!~

    In this picture I'd say Pat's toasted and looking for his stash of Twinkies!~

    December 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
  12. OurPlanet

    Maybe he saw the light after a harvest.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  13. BFC64

    You can go back to to the 1930's and see how the alcohol industry paid millions to have strict marijuana laws put in place. The alcohol industry knew they were in trouble if pot was legal. More than 70 years later, this is still happening, but I think that the tide is turning and it's about time. As for Pat Robertson, kudos to him for actually recognizing how these laws are destroying lives over a much less harmful substance than alcohol.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  14. TheMovieFan

    Wow! That was rational. Unexpected from his kind.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  15. captaincanuck

    The War on Drugs has been an ENORMOUS waste of YOUR resources and tax dollars....for WEED, give me a break....send relatively harmless people to hardened prison, you will simply create more crime and criminals once those folks get out after learning from others in the gladiator academies you call prisons...why the US locks up MORE of it's OWN citizens than any other country in the entire world, you ever ask yourself that question??? Move forward, join the 21st C US!!!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
  16. Emerald Laughter

    It's a Christmas Miracle!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
  17. Brian

    I met Robertson's mother once. She said she had a miscarriage the day Pat was born.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  18. metalbuoy

    He's right. the whole illegality against marijuana is all about the government controlling you and making tons of dough on busting you. Might be time for me to start watching the 700 club LOL

    December 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  19. asdf

    everybody knows pot is WAY less harmful than alcohol and all those other prescription pills that big pharma (and the gov't) are MORE THAN happy to jam down your throat. But how do you make money off a plant?!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  20. Peter Wolfe

    My last post was edited by the Cnn Communist party of the USA. So, the only time people of power whether that is politicians, preachers, CEOSand others that they control the masses on social issues and fiscal issues. People particularly what we call people in the USA's fears on materialism and lack of empathy on generalizations like the poor are lazy without any evidense can control us as a collective. Its called psychology in work by the controlling minorty case, so that this is planned to divide and conquer. Go and vote or call on advocacy to change local policies yourself not rely on a few to do what the many shuld be doing. Thanks Cnn Communist party

    December 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
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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.