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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. RabidinL.A.

    -Faints-

    December 23, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
  2. DJ

    It'd be nicer to see this if his people didn't immediately go into damage control mode, but what it looks like is that Robertson went off script again, this time voicing an intelligent observation instead of declaring we're all going to hell for being tolerant, and his "handlers" are now scrambling to keep the bank account... excuse me, the Right Wing Christians, from changing the pin number. Scuze me again, from withdrawing support.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
  3. sanjosedave

    Hilarious – I was thinking the same thing – I can't believe that, for once, I agree with Pat Robertson. Punishment for this crime is completely out of whack and it is costing us money and we're not getting positive results.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  4. bill

    I actually agree with Pat Robertson on something? Say it isn't so. I feel dirty, I think I'm going to have to take a shower now.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  5. taildragon

    Whaddya know? Even a stopped clock is right twice a day...

    December 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  6. amil

    I agree with Pat on this, the current mandatory quo serves noone, its an injustice.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:34 pm |
  7. JennyTX

    He's the man who said that Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti were god's way of punishing people. He's insane, but surprisingly, on this point he is reasonable.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
  8. Edward Nashville, TN

    I guess he took his meds that day and actually made sense for a change. I just so happened to hear him say it. I was working on my pc and happened to have it on that channel. I couldn't believe it. Now that is a minor miracle.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:24 pm |
  9. Tim

    This is the first thing this guy has ever said that I agree with. Look at all of his "people" covering their axxes trying to say what he said wasn't what he meant. What he said makes sense.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
  10. Jerry

    Pat Robertson really needs to go the way of Jerry Falwell

    December 23, 2010 at 8:21 pm |
  11. Blame Bush

    Ironic, given Robertson's remarks over the years it indicates he's obviously been smoking some sort of wacky weed.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
  12. Praetorian

    ATTENTION CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS: This is NOT, repeat NOT Pat Robertson. All 'True Christians' are ordered to kill the impostor at once. Failure to do so may well land your ass in the ninth level of HELL! Praise Jay-Zuz! That is all.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
  13. LDude

    AaronS;
    Thank you for that comment.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  14. Ray Joseph Cormier

    Maybe Pat Robertson revisited Genesis 1 and saw these words, and got new insight.

    [29] And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

    Maybe he was reviewing these words in the Bible.

    I read the following as Christ saying in the final analysis, it doesn't matter if you're Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Agnostic, black, white, rich, poor, male, female, free or in debt. It depends on the unrecognized acts of love and compassion people do for one another daily.

    Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
    For I was an hungry, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in:
    Naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I WAS IN PRISON, and you came to me.
    Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry, and fed you? or thirsty, and gave you drink?
    When did we see you a stranger, and took you in? or naked, and clothed you?
    Or when did we see you sick, or in PRISON, and came to you?
    And the King shall answer and say to them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it to me.

    God is just and equal. Matthew 25

    December 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  15. CynicalOne

    Well, I'm surprised. Pat Robertson finally made headlines for saying something that made sense.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  16. Someone

    News flash – A flock of pigs just flew by my window!!!!!

    December 23, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
  17. Brett

    Wow! Color me shocked. Pat Robertson actually made a rational statement. The apocalypse MUST be near.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
  18. joe

    Pat has my vote now

    December 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  19. Peter

    I agree with him on this matter, we should criminalize what the banks,credit car companies, and corporations do to us. It's time for Ameiricans to stand up to all this corruption that the republicans push. Time to put them in prison for breaking moral laws and talking out their^#*&@#*(. They already play the game which keeps them out of prison for what they are doing. Control, Power and money is what they are after and they have been getting it, which is why they are willing to ruin someones life for a little herbal smoke, But they have no problem with the things they do , which are worse and more harmful to our society and the world.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  20. John

    A Christian Freak,He also said that God started the Earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane in New Orleans to Kill all the Sinners.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:51 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.