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. Pete

    Holy crap – a Republican talking sense! Merry Christmas!!!!!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:57 pm |
  2. HH

    Hades just froze over (and I realize that's a contradiction in terms here!) but I actually agree with Pat Robertson!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
  3. lv_nonanon

    Why don't we legalize domestically grown pot, tax it, make great seeds and product, then export it? It would save money, make money, and probably not change much. To get the DEMS aboard, make it a Federal only product for sale via the Post Office. They're broke, too, and nobody sends letters anymore -AND- they have a great existing distribution system. Everybody wins, even Pat Robertson. BTW, I thought G(d had taken him up after he failed to raise money one time. Really, no kidding, I thought he was dead.

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

      i thought that too, but maybe he just got really stoned and dropped out of the public eye for a bit? But seriously, the post office thing is awesome. Blue mail boxes for postage, green mail boxes for the important stuff. Bail out Amtrak while were at it, they still have smoking cars don't they?

      December 24, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  4. John Bean

    Here's my posting on it...

    December 23, 2010 at 9:51 pm |
  5. Oldie in TampaBay

    I am STUNNED! Is it possible Mister Holier Than Thou has seen THE LIGHT?!? WOW! You go Pat!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  6. oracle_guy_from_Delphi

    Yo .... I think the rev been tokin'.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  7. dualactionblend

    –Chris Roslan, a CBN spokesman, insisted Thursday that Robertson "did not call for the decriminalization of marijuana"–

    Too bad, we almost agreed on something for once.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
  8. Lily

    Betcha ol' Pat has developed glaucoma & discovered one of the many medicinal uses of the herb. He doesn't do or say anything without some sort of self-interest as a motivation.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  9. Elaine Bessette

    Did this fool actually just say something intelligent? It's miraculous!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  10. Jaded1

    It is nice to see someone like this, whom is so highly regarded by many, putting a step forward and realizing the idiocy of current cannabis laws!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  11. Mizh

    maybe TInMT and Fatboy slime should hook up

    December 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm |
  12. the dude

    The most sense he's made in his whole life. If Pat Robertson understands, why doesn't the govt? It's all about money. And civil rights. End the prohibition of marijuana.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  13. Brent

    It's a F&%^%^ng Christmas Miracle – I agree with a nut job! I'm off to a church to praise something.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
  14. Bart

    Come out of the closet(s) Silly Fatboy.....your (lack of) intellect has given you away....

    December 23, 2010 at 9:24 pm |
  15. Mizh

    @PETER: couldn't have said it better myself. RIGHT ON!!!!!!!!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
  16. Bart

    Just how difficult is it for the leaders of the sheep to think for themselves a small bit? Evidently it can't be done. Why did Pat's handlers have to come back and restate his position? And, how obvious is it that severe penalties for anything marijuana related are Stalinist?

    December 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
  17. richardsrussell

    Even a stopped watch is right twice a day. Even a blind pig can find an acorn every once in a while. And even Pat Robertson — lord of looniness — every now and again says something sensible. I'm sure it was an accident. Let's all just go back to ignoring him, shall we, please?

    December 23, 2010 at 9:18 pm |
  18. upNsmoke

    I'm not a supporter of Mr.Pat. However Pat's bible says that we can use ANY plant bearing seeds or fruit. If he says different, he is a dam lair.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:14 pm |
  19. Ncblueguy

    About time someone had the courage to say it. 1 in 31 Americans are in jail or on probation at any given time. 1 in 18 men are in jail or probation, at any given time. Does ANYONE care? NO. More worried about reality tv and whether we'll start selling nukes to Russia again. At least Dr. Robertson here has the wherewithal to say something where most people are busy trolling message boards.
    And finally, it is LIBERALS, just as much as CONSERVATIVES, who are to blame for mandatory sentencing. I'm from NC and we've been run by Dems for decades.

    December 23, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  20. Jim J

    All jokes aside, Robertson is right on the money on this issue. Absolutely nailed it on the head, I wish other people would wake up

    December 23, 2010 at 9:06 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.