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 Black Hills of S. Dakota

    I thought Pat Robertson would see me as demon hiding my hoovies behind prosthetic feet for being a marijuana connoisseur, but surprise. This is an opinion we share, it's time to bury "Reefer Madness" not because it's 2010, but because everything that was claimed by these horror stories are false. No prison time for marijuana unless you're a smuggler, let's keep it "home grown". This is an adult only recreation.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  2. pete

    The real Pat Robertson has died and this guy is an imposter, how else do explain his remarks?

    December 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  3. Jubril

    One other thing that is certain every single year other than Christmas is Pat Robertson saying something stupid.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
  4. Jennifer M

    Weirdly, I agree with him for once.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
    • pete

      Me too, never thought that would happen.

      December 23, 2010 at 7:05 pm |
    • TerryG

      It feels kinda strange to be on the same side at this fruitcake.

      December 23, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  5. Jeff

    $25,000 a year to incarcerate marijuana (or most drugs) users / dealers is a self-defeating waste of money.

    Hate to deny the righties their vengeance, but it just doesn't make sense. They're going to have get a little love in their hearts.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm |

      What they need to do is to go after the dope smufflwers from Mexico, the sellars and dope makers here in the US. But oh no big money onh thet end so they instead arrest a man that has enough to make three cigaretts and send him to prison. This shows they're trying to do something. WE NEED TO CLEN HOUSE AND IT STARTS AT THE TOP. OVAL OFFICE DOWN.

      December 25, 2010 at 8:31 pm |

      What they need to do is to go after the dope smugglers from Mexico, the sellers and dope makers here in the US. But OH NO big money on that end so they instead arrest a man that has enough to make three cigarettes and send him to prison. This shows they're trying to do something. WE NEED TO CLEAN HOUSE AND IT STARTS AT THE TOP. OVAL OFFICE DOWN.

      December 25, 2010 at 8:33 pm |
  6. Mack Robertson

    To my friends and acquaintances, I strongly wish to reiterate, I AM NOT RELATED TO PAT ROBERTSON.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  7. Kenneth

    Funny thing is that no one mentioned that there is just as much pot in prison. So a kid takes a couple of puffs, gets locked up, starts smoking regularly, spends 10 years confined and smoking away, gets released, gets busted for possession of an ounce, gets locked up, smokes more .... etc ... etc


    December 23, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  8. Chet

    Pass the dutchie to the left hand side

    December 23, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  9. Doug

    Pat Robertson is a complete idiot. He has progressives as ungodly. He said that Gay and Lesbian Americans are immoral and caused the 9/11 attack. The list goes on. Back in the 50's, he supported segregation and justified it as a biblical command. I am very happy that he does not make policy, otherwise our country would be in big trouble. He is idiot who should be ignored!!

    December 23, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • pete

      We only pay attention for the comedic value .

      December 23, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  10. Matt

    I'm not a fan of Pat Robertson, or religion in general, but it is good to see a figure such as him denounce what most of us know all along... that a pretty crime should not turn an otherwise good person into a hardened criminal. Jails are an archaic form of punishment. It reminds me of that movie/novel "A Clockwork Orange". Do we lock up all the young people, and throw away the key? Or do we reprogram and reclaim them as productive members of society? For once, I have to say to Robertson, I think we can agree on this subject. Even though I still think he's a complete a$$.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  11. Chief Gimmeeback

    There's only word to explain Pat's change of thought, alzheimers

    December 23, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  12. Don C

    Pat being reasonable? Its been a long time but I felt like I smoked some chronic after reading this.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  13. tooty

    Pat Robertson has long been an odd duck like this. He'll say totally wackadoo wingnut things one moment, then totally sensible down to earth things the next. I guess we can apply the "take what's good and leave the rest" principle here. This is good, what he said. I agree with it 100%.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
    • @Grob

      I do not recall Robertson saying anything sensible before this nugget.

      Can you elaborate?

      December 28, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  14. AaronS

    If you don't like Pat Robertson, fine: eat the hay and spit out the sticks. I'm a conservative Christian and I completely agree that it is crazy to give someone YEARS for smoking a joint. Without condoning it, it's just not that big of a deal. We might as well put people in jail for coming home and having a beer (I'm not condoning that either).

    I've concluded that in this world there is so much pressure, so many burdens to bear, so much pain (physical and otherwise), that people are going to seek some sort of solace. Some find it in religion, some in alcohol, some in busyness, others in drugs. No, it's not good when people make their refuge in something that can eventually come to control them and cause criminal behavior, but, hey, we live in a fallen world where we all try to get along as best we can.

    Without condoning the use of drugs, I can also say that it seems certain that our "war on drugs" has been largely useless. If we count the bodies in prison, is it any more effective than the "body counts" we did in Vietnam? It's not really stopping drugs to lock up people, is it? Why? Because someone WILL take their place in either using or distributing.

    If we are going to allow alcohol (even though it also has abusers), there is no good reason I can think of not to permit people to take a pill or a puff to get a little boost in life. It's hypocritical to allow one "drug" and not the others, it seems.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
    • EuphoriCrest

      As a progressive atheist, let me tell you what's wrong with your comment... Ummm, well... nothing, really. Very well said. Darn, and I was looking forward to a good debate.

      December 23, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
    • Klipsan

      I am not a fan of anyone who "leads from the pulpit". So no, I do not appreciate Pat, but I can not agree with you more. Concise, well thought out, and well written. Congrats.

      December 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
  15. matttb

    Prisons are big business in the states, most of them are privatized and obviously give the government kickbacks to keep their jails full, majority wise with small charge first time criminals. This is a perfect example, get caught in a lot of the places in the USA with marijuana and you're more than likely to lose your license or end up in jail. Also lessen the charges or legalize it? Pfffft they would need to cut the police force down by quite a bit or start writing much more traffic tickets which seems to be all police do these days.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  16. Bhush

    You have to give him credit. The man has said many, many dumb things in his life, but shockingly he nailed this one.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  17. JH1

    Wow Pat Robertson makes a logical argument. First time for everything.

    December 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  18. Larry

    "Dr. Robertson unequivocally stated that he is against the use of illegal drugs."

    But if pot becomes legal, he's all for it!!!!

    December 23, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  19. Trey

    Could someone check to see if hell has frozen over?

    December 23, 2010 at 6:31 pm |
  20. TLIONS35

    This is the first time ever, I actually agreed with what this man said. I had to close my mouth with my hands after my chin hit the floor! Shocking.....

    December 23, 2010 at 6:28 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.