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. richierich08

    i'll be damned...one topic mr. robertson and i somewhat agree upon...i'd love to see the statistics on how many people are killed in weed-related car accidents...more than 10,000 ppl die each year from alcohol related car accidents, not to mention the liver damage, broken marriages, beaten spouses and children, emotional and physical wreckage, I could go on...every car made should have a non-invasive alcohol sensor for the driver...period...no drinking and driving.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
  2. Wisdom4u2

    Say what you want about Pat, but I have to agree with him 100% on this issue.
    I don't see anything for Pat to apologize for, or to correct.

    Pat just gets people in an uproar because he tells it like he sees it, and I can relate, because I do the same thing, only I don't have my people making apologies for me. Ha-ha!

    December 23, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  3. duneduder

    Can't say I've ever agreed w/ PR on even an omelete choice. Gotta give him cred though for articulating this instance so well and true.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  4. Wiz Khareefa

    This is a turning point.... maybe Mr. Robertson will actually go out on a *high* note!

    December 23, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  5. Ficheye

    I guess that means that Jesus.... never mind.

    And that burning bush.... well, maybe not.

    And the image of Mary that I saw in a pancake at IHOP.... definitely.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
  6. JesusisLord

    Mr. Robertson does not condone smoking pot. Anyone who serves Jesus Christ understands that Satan uses drugs to destroy a person's life, and ultimately their soul. Mr. Robertson is merely suggesting that pot laws are too severe, and too expensive to enforce.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:02 pm |
    • Rick

      which drugs does satan use?

      December 24, 2010 at 8:00 am |
    • Heretic

      What? I hope this is sarcasm because I otherwise cannot fathom why or how such fundamentalist views have gotten originated. I suppose satan put those plants here...or your god put them here to test one's faith? You are free to your own opinions and beliefs but this is why religion has absolutely zero business in governing people.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:03 am |
    • Hokulani Cheneviere

      But Jesus, WHO created Cannabis/Hemp? Was it GOD or Satan? If it's either of them, then shouldn't law enforcement go after the REAL criminals? My King James Bible says that GOD himself gave man ALL herb bearing seeds. Cannabis is an herb that grows from a seed. Therefore, GOD would be the ONE that gave man this plant. And you are right, Satan does take advantage of drug addicts. But...most who enjoy Cannabis are NOT addicts. Some even use it for medicine. And I urge you to discover the true meaning of CHRIST. It comes from the Greek word chrism which means "to annoint". Jesus Christ aka "the Anointed One". And Jesus, get this, Cannabis IS in the Holy Anointing Oil recipe given to Moses by God-Exodus 30:23. The Hebrew word for sweet calumus or fragrant cane is Keneh bosm? Does that sound anything like the word "Cannabis" to you? So, Jesus may not have been a stoner, but I guarantee that he did use the plant for many purposes, including sacrament, medicine, fabric, rope, canvas, fuel (oil from the seeds) and even food for livestock. It is just ridiculous to think otherwise.

      December 26, 2010 at 1:02 am |
  7. Blue

    Throwing people in jail for having a bad habit is more destructive to the fabric of society than the habit itself.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  8. Christiaan Kooring

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    As for the CBNs statement that Robertson is not advocating decriminalization, the statement he made speaks for itself.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • Patrick Jones

      Incorrect Christiaan. Smoking pot is harmful and new studies show it will increase your likelihood for an accident.


      January 3, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  9. Micheline

    shock that he made such a comment, that made him sound like a human, rather then the usual lunatic with his absurd comments... hmmmm maybe he's been smoking some pot lately..lol

    December 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  10. Tedd Sabir

    Pat has been in the business of helping prisoners through his prison ministries. He knows a lot about what goes on with young Americans who end up with long sentences for crimes of this nature. Perhaps what he is saying is comparative in perspective.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  11. LMD

    The date here says 12/23,but from this article I would say it's April 1st!! Ah well they say the holidays produce miracles...lol

    December 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  12. Joe Canada

    Pat Robertson is the stereotypical american. Old, rich, religious extremist who is bent on furthering his own agenda, regardless of how inept and ignorant he is.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:39 pm |
  13. Joe Canada

    Turning pot heads into hardened criminals is the american thing to do!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
    • SJB

      Exactly! The U.S. has been doing it better than anybody since the 1930s!

      December 24, 2010 at 12:32 am |
  14. Reds

    Dude... wait, um, did he he just say that out loud?

    December 23, 2010 at 10:26 pm |
  15. Greenspam

    The irony is that Pat Robertson for once actually said something sensible but he had to retract it!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  16. Marco555

    Rich monkey.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:13 pm |
  17. Eldon

    the 1st saint james bible is written upon cannibus pper early cristians used cannibus for thousands of years for differnt troubles medically but james ashlinger made it a devil substance in 1938 and george washington said if we ever stopped growing cannibus in the U.S. we would go into a defficept at the time you were charged a extra fee if you didnt grow cannibus in your garden it was a LAW.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
  18. billl

    When a majority of Americans want marijuana laws changed they will change. It is really that simple.
    I hear a bunch of talking but not a bunch of doing.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  19. CJ

    people have been smoking pot and doing other drugs for thousands of years and no one has been able to stop them. Americqa has proved itself to be a backwards country by not decriminalizing pot. I think this is the first sane thing Pat Robertson has said....is it possible he has smoked himself?

    December 23, 2010 at 10:00 pm |
  20. Bill

    Not that I care much what crazy people like Pat Robertson think. But bravo to him for finally saying something sane. Like the old adage says, even a broken clock is right twice a day. So maybe religious nuts are capable of the occasional rational thought once in while. Let's just wish him more of it!

    December 23, 2010 at 9:57 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.