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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. MacGog

    Wow, Pat Robertson actually had an intelligent thought. He must have been burning his last roach.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  2. Bobbb

    The old dude is going senile and no amount, NO AMOUNT OF DISSENTION WILL MAKE DRUGS RIGHT.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:29 am |
  3. jo

    To pot or not to pot..give pat a break. Dont u know he is probably getting confused...he is 80. he may come out with some surprising things...but they r biblical And entertaining. Cbn has reached out to millions to bring them to know christ. I am a cbn supporter. And brenan..please read the bible only and stop listening to the pope and catholic church..u r going to get ur self Even more confused. Ps..only jesus rose into heaven..not mary..she was chosen but still an ordinary woman. John 3:16.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  4. ProperVillain

    Hell must have frozen over. I find myself actually agreeing with Pat Robertson....

    December 24, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  5. doug

    People have died from the long term use of pot to say ino one has is insane. It has caused quit a few deaths i would imagine Whenever you see a DUI arrest it can be any type of drug even legal unless there is a BAC listed next to it.

    Long term effects are decreased testosterone for men
    Increased risk of chronic pulmonary disorders

    December 24, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  6. twalk

    There must be a benefit in it for him in some way. Does he or a relative use weed?

    December 24, 2010 at 1:14 am |
  7. Prometheus

    My respect just went up for MR Robertson. Maybe there is hope for even the most rabidly stubborn person to see reason and then act accordingly.

    I hope so.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:11 am |
  8. Kris Kringle

    I am just now watching the very large marijuana fields in Afghanistan being harvested. They grow a lot of it here for personal use as well as to extract the THC oils for hash. The farmers need to make money somehow to pay for their next years crop of food. I say tax and regulate the heck out of it and let AMERICAN farmers reap the benefits over those from Central/South America.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:09 am |
  9. Kris Kringle

    Most conservatives quietly agree it's time to legalize marijuana. On the social side it's not worth putting pot smokers in prison with real hardened criminals. Most Christians I talk too all say it's ruining a generation of young men and women. If you do prison time your chances of getting a good education and decent paying job are done. Those people became a burden on society the minute the cuffs were on and they'll continue to remain a burden on society for the rest of their lives. Fiscal conservatives also see the folly of wasting billions on the legal process. Fiscal conservatives like myself see legalization as a boom for the economy. Why send the money to Mexico when our farmers can grow it here? Plus, taking away money from drug lords will only decrease the crime rate. Most social/fiscal conservatives I know all agree; it's time to tax and regulate marijuana. It will save money as well as lives.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  10. Susan

    Legalize it...Don't Criticize it....

    December 24, 2010 at 12:43 am |
  11. wbaldwin

    See, i believe this should be the standpoint of most christians, who in my opinion support rehabilitation over penalization. I also support the idea of reforming criminal behavior in people, rather than punishing them with jail time, even though i'm not religious at all. Prop 5 a few years ago in California dealt with this issue, here are some facts from the now defunct website: http://www.prop5yes.com/category/facts

    FACT: Prop. 5 is the only initiative on the November ballot that CUTS state costs. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst calculates that Prop. 5 will cut prison operating costs by $1 billion or more per year, and will prevent another $2.5 billion in prison construction.

    FACT: Prop. 5 will expand access to drug treatment and rehabilitation to nonviolent offenders and reduce the need for incarceration – at a savings of $46,000 per person per year.

    FACT: Prop. 5 makes our communities safer by re-focusing our parole resources on serious and violent offenders and increasing their parole terms from 3 to 5 years, while providing rehabilitation and treatment to help nonviolent parolees get their lives back on track.

    FACT: Prop. 5 will, for the first time, establish drug treatment and related services for at-risk youth to prevent addiction and crime before they happen.

    FACT: Prop. 5 protects judges' power to hold nonviolent drug offenders accountable.

    Yet, we didn't pass it? I think it was heartless really. Hey, don't we have a financial problem here? Unless we start making criminals mine for gold, i think this kind of reform is our only hope obi won.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:39 am |
  12. Mike R

    Okay...now I must be the crazy one. He's said ridiculous things forever, but now I'm in agreement.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  13. SJB

    A dope talking about dope.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  14. John

    * behind the scenes *

    * buddy, pass the joint already *

    * robertson, slow down man! let me feel it first mmmmmppphhhh ahhhhh *

    December 24, 2010 at 12:21 am |
  15. John

    Wow he said something that made sense. Except that he wants to put those same guys in a church rehabilitation center instead of putting them in prison. This is just another ploy to convert people to christianity.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  16. Andy Krull

    Pat Robertson finally said something almost sane. OK some of the worlds most backward religions are now finally starting to understand that some of the legislations created by their far right conservative law makers are unfair and asinine. Now to actually do something about it...

    December 23, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  17. cynthia-494

    What a smart man!

    December 23, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  18. Jesus of Nazareth

    Oh Pat oh Pat. Stop pretending you know me.

    December 23, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
  19. Brian from Chicago

    Um... about this photo... is he high right now?

    December 23, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  20. PARROT

    PAT ROBERTSON IS ANOTHER PROOF THE WORLD IS ENDING SOON !!

    December 23, 2010 at 11:38 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.