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. fred astaire

    Remember when years ago he claimed Cuba had nuclear missiles? God called him home years ago but all that went was the brain. The mouth and head are left clueless.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:12 am |
  2. dallas007

    Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that what he say is true, sending people to prison for smoking pot is like locking people up for drinking a few drinks. It is a waste of our tax money and I wish we would spend it on educating out children instead of spending it on sending them to prison!

    December 24, 2010 at 7:03 am |
  3. BazookaJ

    Well, I'm glad to see Mr. Robertson isn't blind to the FACT that incarcerating "OUR" citizens for a weed and destroying their lives is a HUGE mistake. The U.S.'s "War against Marijuana" is an utter failure. This is like Vietnam all over again. Don't stop the War because some "elites" are profiting off of this madness and...btw hate to admit it to those too blind to see but...THE WAR IS LOST! Why don't we as a Country admit that to ourself's and make some "sensible" policy changes for the good of "all U.S. Citizens" not just the top elites that profit off of others misery? Corruption? hmmm? Just sickening and IMMORAL!

    December 24, 2010 at 7:00 am |
  4. laura

    The voice of reason from a surprising source!

    December 24, 2010 at 6:30 am |
  5. Karloff

    I just saw pigs flying by my window.

    December 24, 2010 at 6:21 am |
  6. elreyjones

    I've always like Pat but we disagree on this one. I've always supported quick and swift executions for anyone selling or smoking marijuana. Also, any foreigner selling or using the stuff in the USA gets a public lynching. Yes I said it and I mean it.

    December 24, 2010 at 6:01 am |
    • BH

      Swift executions for marijuana users? What in the world is wrong with you? You and the ultra liberals are what is wrong with our country. You should try and assimilate into society.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  7. irish mary

    I agree!

    December 24, 2010 at 5:38 am |
  8. dan

    61 yr old Rev. Roger Christe is in jail in Hawaii for having and promoting pot use among Christians. Also Rev. Christe is famous for his you tube vid about cannabis being in the holy anointing oil of Exodus 30:22-25..... A 61 yr old peaceful political prisoner in Hi as Obama the guy that INCREASED drug war funding and has continued and expanded on all of the Bush era war crimes vacations over on the next island......... (Kanna Bosum) cannabis is the tree of life.

    December 24, 2010 at 5:06 am |
  9. Bill

    I'm all for mandatory life sentences for pot criminals, unless they choose to perform several hours of community service instead. And by 'several hours of community service,' I mean 'beating Pat Robertson to within an inch of his pathetic life'.

    December 24, 2010 at 4:59 am |
  10. Smokey

    Pat Robertson says something sensible and compassionate, something that shows real Christian kindness...he should be careful, I'm not sure that's what his audience wants to hear! But seriously, Genesis 1:29 (NIV): "Then GOD said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it." And yet fools believe that our petty mortal laws are enough to ban this or that plant from being grown! Will we pass legislation to blot out the sun's rays from those species of vegetation we find offensive?

    December 24, 2010 at 4:33 am |
  11. LocalJim

    Then why cant we get everyone together to vote for decriminalization. Everyone needs to talk about this more openly and honestly. If we can allow don't ask don't tell to be repealed then puff puff pass should be decriminalized. Cause this envolves gays, straight, legal and illegal immigrants, welathy poor the middle class conservative and of course mostly liberals, but regardless everyone now has smoked or know or has met someone who does. someone we dont want their lives ruined. Enough of the hiding and sneaking around like criminals for Americans. Treated it like alcohol and cigarettes. tax it !!! Why are we so counter-productive with this still. I am glad to see that this is heading into a very bipartisan level of agreement. I am not entirely shocked with Pat's words and glad to see he is on board.

    December 24, 2010 at 3:40 am |
  12. Mary J

    Who would have ever thought Pat Robertson would be the voice of reason?

    December 24, 2010 at 3:28 am |
  13. Paulie

    In a way its genius. If the Conservatives and Republicans get behind decriminalizing marijuana then there is no way they would lose the 2012 elections.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:59 am |
  14. A

    Well said Pat. I think that is one of the most intelligent statements Pat has made in many years. It is true that many zealous law enforcement officers and judges can go overboard and lead a young person into a life of crime by preying upon their stupid acts and putting a bullseye on their back from now on by predator cops that use profiling as a weapon to fill the jails.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:31 am |
  15. Kevin

    The first time one of those nut jobs ever had anything intelligent to say

    December 24, 2010 at 2:30 am |
  16. Bleen Gloob

    Hey Jesus quit bogarting my blunt............LMAO

    December 24, 2010 at 2:13 am |
  17. TA


    You are so wrong about the USA being the worst for getting caught with a small amount. Just pop into say, Bali (Islamic Indonesia) with a few o'zeees and get caught.... see how gracious they will be to have you stay at their place...5 foot ceiling height jails and all, for say, UNTIL YOU DIE! Or they will simply sentence you to death. Depends on the judge and how much you can bribe, without getting caught bribing. There are much worse places than the USA for this healing plant. But yes, lets all enjoy the wonder plant and not fight with each other.

    December 24, 2010 at 2:13 am |
  18. The Mannnnnnnnnnnnn

    Pat Robertson is sooooo high in that picture!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 2:12 am |
  19. mark fields

    Well the evil christian republican is finally showing an ounce of logic and compassion! He must have an ulterior motive..I just haven't figured what that is yet?

    December 24, 2010 at 2:03 am |
  20. QuestionAuthority

    That's the smartest thing I've heard Pat Robertson say, well...ever. He's got a long way to go though.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:44 am |
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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.