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. Mary J

    I'm high right now so I'm really getting a kick out of these comments

    December 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Greg

    You will find out in a couple days that someone was about to expose this Hippocratic snake oil salesman as a closet pot smoker

    December 24, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Lou Cypher

      And a hypocritical most everything else as well. There's a special place in the roasting room made just for ol' Pious Pat.

      January 13, 2011 at 6:55 am |
  3. JimmyNelson

    I believe that is the most sane thing i have ever heard him say..

    December 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  4. betty

    POT IS NOT A DRUG,God plant

    December 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  5. laboom

    This guy is a dirt bag I still hate him

    December 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  6. Ivy

    I'm going to roll a big doobie with Pat!

    December 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  7. Seanm

    I am shocked. this is the first time he has said something that I had no problems with. Is this the sign of the appocolyps when Pat Robinson starts making actual sense???

    December 24, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
  8. ApprxAm

    What would Jesus toke?

    December 24, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  9. Jackie


    December 24, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  10. Jim Weix, Palm City FL

    Our government has become our enemy. It destroys the lives of so many of our youth. We will only save our youth and our wonderful United States of America when we destroy the enemy.

    December 24, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
  11. Green Home Medics

    hearing these kinds of comments come from a person such as Pat Robertson I believe serves as irrefutable proof of the shifting political climate surrounding Medical Marijuana. This story is a landmark event in the Medical Marijuana Legalization movement. I have taken care of Cancer patients for most of my career. I have met them at diagnosis when they are full of energy and life. They are ready to fight, and they are determined that Cancer won't beat them. Then day by day I watch them suffer. I meet their entire family's, their children, their spouses, their parents, cousins from out of state, and extended family not even my patient had seen in years, and I watch each and everyone of them suffer, enduring unimaginable emotional pain as they watch their loved one suffer pain of the physical sort. I watch my patient decline on a daily basis. Then they will have a good week or so, and you can feel the joy coming from each and every person who walked out of that aseptic smelling room of death. I do my best to encourage them without giving false hope because I know what is going to happen. Then it does happen. The death process begins. I watch my patient's condition grow more grim by the hour now, her days of life now reduced to a measure than can be taken with a clock. They cry, they suffer, they take the slow road to the other side, their family's left behind at the starting line, eyes swollen and dry, no more tears left to cry. I hold my patients hand as they leave this place, their suffering finally over, and the family can finally see a light at the end of the long tunnel that is modern Cancer treatment. Through out this entire ordeal, as I look into the sunken ashen lifeless eyes of my patients during my care of them and I know that they could get some relief from Marijuana Therapy. But most of them would not even consider it, our country being mostly Christian and Pat Robertson dictating how most of these people live their lives. Until this story broke I think it is pretty safe to say that we all assumed Mr. Robertson, as usual, would side with his ultra conservative counterparts on the issue of Medical Marijuana. The senior citizen demographic (a large portion of Cancer sufferers) respect what Mr. Robertson says. I think due to his comments, and the attention this story has received there will be Cancer patients laying in bed suffering in pain with no real consistent way to alleviate it, who will consider Marijuana Therapy. This has been a dream of mine since I began working with Oncology patients, for someone who the older generation respects, to open their minds to the benefits of Marijuana, and deliver this message to the older generation so that some of the Cancer patients daily suffering may be alleviated. There are patients right now as you read this wincing in horrible pain from Cancer. They could receive benefit from Marijuana Therapy, but would never even consider it a treatment option due to bad policies and even worse politics. Mr Robertson's comments can serve to defeat this unfair negative perception of Medical Marijuana and he should be commended for it. I have never before, but I am going to watch the 700 club from now on, and I am not even Christian. Mr Robertson should be give the highest honor given out for civic duty by a citizen, because he has cast the first stone, from the Christian, hand at the black wall of bad politics that has kept this beneficial medicine out of the hands of patients in need. Thank you Mr Robertson on behalf of all patients everywhere...S.Mendez Green Home Medics

    December 24, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  12. Emile Mervin

    Rev. Robertson has a valid point in his argument, and itis about time the government comes up with a whole new approach to drug use and abuse in America. Whatever strategy was adopted two decades ago needs to be revisited right now and let us stop making a mockery of 'Say No To Drugs' and the hundreds of millions we spend every year saying we're fighting drug wars. Like terrorism, which we may not stop, we need to bring drug use under control and throwing people in prison is not addressing the issue frontally.

    There is also the question of a disparity in sentences to types of individuals caught selling or using drugs. Blacks and Hispanics disproportionately are sent to prison, while whites, but especially celebrties, get sent to rehab. The daughter of a wealthy New Jerseyian was caught selling marijuana out of her dorm at New York University. At trial, the judge sent her to rehab. Many Blacks and Hisanics caught doing the same thing have and are serving 15 to life.

    I would like to know the statistics for the last year on persons who were injured or were killed in accidents related to marijuana use compared to persons who were ijnured or killed in accidents related to alcohol use. If the stats show a wide disparity that favors marijuana in a less dangerous light, then how can government justify legalizing alcohol but not marijuana?

    We make adjustments in the war on terrorists if we feel we are not winning, so why don't we make adjustments in the war on drugs, which we clearly are not winning?

    December 24, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  13. smmaddog

    Pat Robertson actually said something that kind of made sense? A clear sign of the coming of the apocolypse!

    December 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  14. Joe

    In 2006, many of us in medicine were shocked when a review of research to date did not show an increase in lung cancer related to marijuana use. There was even a suggestion that marijuana had a protective effect against lung cancer. Recent studies, in contrast, do appear to link smoking marijuana with lung cancer.

    One study demonstrated a doubling in lung cancer for male marijuana smokers who also used tobacco. Another study found that long-term use of marijuana increased the risk of lung cancer in young adults (55 and under), with the risk increasing in proportion to the amount of marijuana smoked. lungcancerDOTaboutDOTcom/od/causesoflungcance1/f/marijuana.htm

    December 24, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
  15. Pravda

    Wow... I can't believe that this man actually says something that makes sense for once.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  16. ChicagoK

    The organization MADD, mothers against drunk drivers, will rename itself to mothers against dumb democrats if they have to worry about drugged people killing their kids.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  17. paul.c

    You have to be high to believe what this guy believes.All these conservatives are closet junkies,just ask rush limbaugh..he will tell you or sell you some oxycontin.ALL HYPOCRITS

    December 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  18. Pierre Alexes

    Robertson a Christian ??????? As Jesus was claimed to have said: " If you believe in me, then sell all of your posessions and follow me . . ." Do you know any such followers who keep calling themselves Christians?

    December 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  19. Evangelical 999

    This is so obvious to many if not most Americans; but the few in control with loud voices and deep pockets prevent common sense from being implimented. Think people!
    Read what the founding fathers had to say about hemp.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  20. scottbourne

    I never, ever thought I would agree with Pat Robertson on anything. Now watch the right wingers attack him – this should be interesting. The right is for law and order blah blah blah – they just don't want to pay for it.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
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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.