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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. Ditto

    Penalties for marijuana should be INCREASED, not decreased! The more people have to pay, the less they'll want marijuana.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
    • David

      Or we could end prohibition and tax it instead. If prices get too high, I'll just grow it.

      December 23, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
    • Blue

      Ah, if we could just make all bad habits into capital crimes...we could all be perfect little nazis just as you envision.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  2. El Duderino (if you're not into the whole brevity thing)

    Holy crap!! Pat Robertson finally said something I can agree with. Baloons are falling down around me.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  3. beDecent

    Hey Rev, wanna match?

    December 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  4. RevRayGreen

    The law is wrong
    Not the bong

    set the non-violent ganja prisoners free 4 ever.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
    • Ditto

      why would you want to set criminals free? Don't you think people who break the law should be punished?

      December 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
    • Rick

      ditto: not if the law is unjust

      December 24, 2010 at 7:55 am |
  5. GJVT

    Wow! I can't believe I actually agree with this man on something (mandatory penalties)

    December 23, 2010 at 7:38 pm |
  6. edwaters

    Why is it when idiots agree with you they are no longer reasonable but have suddenly seen the light and are now your best friends?

    December 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  7. minding my own business

    Let him WITHOUT sin cast the first stone! Come on really! Leave the man alone!

    December 23, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  8. Blue

    "Just when I thought you couldn't be any dumber, you go and do something like this....AND TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!"

    December 23, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
  9. Miklan

    goooo pat

    December 23, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  10. Prolegal

    I am so happy, it is indescribable, that people are actually agreeing with this. So many people blindly assume that anyone who has smoked marijuana is anti-government/stoner/hippy/criminal/low-life/worthless; truth be known, these judgmental people have never even tried it themselves, and seen that it ISN'T insanely addictive or intoxicating! It is simply an alternative way to relax, as some find in alcohol or prescription sedatives.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  11. David

    Gasp! The fact that this theoconservative nutjob is capable of having a rational thought has left me dumbfounded. The world seems askew. I feel stoned and I don't even smoke pot!

    December 23, 2010 at 7:25 pm |
  12. Sagebrush Shorty

    His opinion is worthless. He is just another phony preacher.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
  13. Sam

    I can't believe I'm actually agreeing with Pat Robertson on anything, but on this subject I do. What is so "Christian" about imposing draconian criminal sanctions on people for possessing small amounts of marijuana? Perhaps some of these fine Christian conservative types could explain to me what societal good comes from locking up pot users.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  14. jt

    So Pat, what are you saying. Don't decriminalize it, yet don't sentence it to hard. That still equals jail time. Please finish the thought and say what you would have done. All your cronies are listening!

    December 23, 2010 at 7:22 pm |
  15. marconi darwin

    Yay! Satan is skating

    December 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
  16. TerryG

    Okay you guys – lay off ole Pat!!! This is the first time I can remember that he said something that actually makes sense.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
  17. Rob

    Somebody check the weather and get me a lottery ticket cuz Hell must have just froze over!!!

    December 23, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  18. Kada

    I would smoke weed if it was a hanging crime. It's funny that all the felons and traitors in Washington are so ready to arrest all the little people, but when they do something against the people in their positions of power they get off by apologizing or covering it up.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  19. chad Harkins

    pat was maybe having a hit of a joint

    December 23, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  20. Brian

    Note how Robertson contradicts himself by talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. They should ask this holy phony what he thinks about Korean ladies of the evening. Marines who served with him in Korea say that's how he spent most of his time there.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:12 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.