March 8th, 2012
01:22 PM ET

Pat Robertson speaks out for marijuana legalization

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Belief Blog

(CNN) - Televangelist Pat Robertson is raising eyebrows, and cheers from activists who are usually his opponents on political issues, by calling for the legalization of marijuana.

“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Robertson told The New York Times on Wednesday. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”

The comments came after Robertson affirmed his support for marijuana decriminalization - which he had voiced in 2010 - on his TV show, “The 700 Club,” last week.

“I became sort of a hero of the hippie culture, I guess, when I said I think we ought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana,” Robertson, 81, said on his Christian Broadcasting Network show.

“I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hard-core criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance,” he said on his show. “The whole thing is crazy.”

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Robertson told the Times that he “absolutely” supports pro-marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington, though he said he would not actively campaign for them.

Many marijuana legalization advocates, who tend to be liberal or libertarian and who often see Robertson as a boogeyman for his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights, have welcomed Robertson’s support while also noting their surprise.

“Pat Robertson's clearly stated and well-reasoned comments throw a curve ball into the growing debate over legalizing marijuana,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the pro-marijuana legalization Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement Thursday.

“The millions of people who listen to and respect him are mostly conservatives, Republicans and older Americans (who) … have been the least likely to support legalizing marijuana,” Nadelmann said.

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A spokesman for Robertson said Thursday that the televangelist was inundated with interview requests and that he was unavailable for immediate comment.

Robertson said on his show last week that he opposed incarceration for marijuana offenses on humanitarian grounds and because of the costs involved.

“We've just got to change the laws,” he said. “We cannot allow this to continue. It is sapping our vitality. Think of this great land of freedom. We have the highest rate of incarceration of any nation on the face of the Earth. That's a shocking statistic.”

In 2010, Robertson spoke on “The 700 Club” about decriminalizing marijuana but didn’t go so far as to advocate legalizing it.

“We’re locking up people that have taken a couple puffs of marijuana, and next thing you know they’ve got 10 years with mandatory sentences,” Robertson said at the time. “…We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes and that’s one of ’em.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Politics

soundoff (1,395 Responses)
  1. hello


    why is an article about a dude deep-sea-diving for pleasure on the front page.

    and not this?

    March 8, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  2. svscnn

    Let's not start handing out any accolades here, shall we.

    Odds are, even the dumbest person alive will be right once or twice in his/her miserable life.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  3. Billy Bob Cletus Feckwood, III

    I'm guessing he smoked some for the first time and realized how wrong his previous stance was.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  4. hello

    check out his big cholo bodyguard. rawrrrr.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  5. hello

    sobres horatio.

    amos a fumarrr

    March 8, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  6. Horatio

    All drugs should be legalized to the same extent alcohol is. Prohibition of alcohol did not curb drinking; it only created aggressive gangs and violence. Ending prohibition did not increase alcohol consumption in the long-term (though there was a short spike at repeal).

    The benefits of legalizing all drugs:

    1. Prison and jail populations would decrease radically – a massive savings of tax dollars. Law enforcement costs would also be reduced significantly.

    2. Gangs would lose their revenue stream, and wither. Drug operations would cease being violent power struggles and instead

    3. Violence in North and South America would reduce radically. Terrorist organizations in South America like FARC would lose their major source of income. Juarez and Tijuana would become far less dangerous.

    4. Taxes on drugs would greatly expand government revenues.

    5. Political stability in Mexico would improve.

    Based on the experience of Prohibition and various studies, drug use would not increase significantly. The general concensus is that people who would use drugs already do, and already find the drugs they need.

    Less violence, far less tax burden, tax revenues. Those are very compelling reasons, especially since there are almost no significant downsides.

    Of course, it will never happen in America. Prudish puritanism lingers here, and too many people think that repression through laws is the only way to handle issues.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • VanHagar

      I agree with most of your comments, but question whether a blanket allowance of all drugs is appropriate. Do we really want to de-criminalize meth?

      March 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Vanhagar, methamphetamines were not illegal till the 1970s. How did society ever survive before then?

      March 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • dbble

      To Vanhagar. I wouldn't say legalizing meth would be a great idea but one reason that people do meth is because it is more readily available than other illegal drugs. If all drugs were available, the chances of a person taking the step to a dangerous drug like meth would diminish. Sometimes people just buy what's available and not what they really are looking for and what's available might be much more dangerous than what you would use otherwise.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      to add to dbbl, it would be quite interesting to see any correlations between the crack down on cocaine imports and the rise of meth.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Elmo

      Agreed. Unleash the forces of Darwin and let the cards fall where they may.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      Herion and meth will never be legal. Society will take a hit. I get pot. But we're still 20 years away from that being legal. Whos got more pull....a voter or big Pharma that loves to push pills. Good job Pat. I'll give you dap for you're point.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  7. hello

    he should smoke on his show

    because i always flip past in when im high

    and wonder

    what the?

    March 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  8. fred

    Catholic schools should be forced to provide marijuana under their health plans at no cost. But only to the women as someone needs to be sober to drive them home after they get high and pick up their birth control pills.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      THC drugs (marinol) are already covered by insurances... someones been drinking the faux news kool aid

      March 8, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Flinders the Butler

      Nope. At the Catholic schools they learn that their Catechism teaches that Mortal sin is dependent on "intention". Then they learn that even if their *intent* is to do everything they can to prevent a pregnancy, (charts, taking temperatures, cycles, abstinence), their god won't notice that their intention is to "plan" a family. They have really dumb god. He certainly won't notice what they're smoking.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  9. Nonimus

    Well, I'll be....

    March 8, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  10. The Central Scrutinizer

    Fun with Crazy Pat Robertson Quotes:

    10. "Lord, give us righteous judges who will not try to legislate and dominate this society. Take control, Lord! We ask for additional vacancies on the court." –Pat Robertson

    9. "Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media and the h.o.m.o.s.e.xuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history." –Pat Robertson

    8. "I would warn Orlando that you're right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don't think I'd be waving those flags in God's face if I were you, This is not a message of hate - this is a message of redemption. But a condition like this will bring about the destruction of your nation. It'll bring about terrorist bombs; it'll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor." –Pat Robertson, on "g.a.y days" at Disneyworld

    7. "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." –Pat Robertson

    6. "I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period." –Pat Robertson

    5. "I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected him from your city. And don't wonder why he hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for his help because he might not be there." –Pat Robertson, after the city of Dover, Pennsylvania voted to boot the current school board, which inst.i.tuted an intelligent design policy that led to a federal trial

    4. "God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says 'This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, 'No, this is mine.' ... He was dividing God's land. And I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations, or the United States of America.' God says, 'This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.'" –Pat Robertson, on why Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke

    3. "Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up" –Pat Robertson, on nuking the State Department

    2. "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with." –Pat Robertson, calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

    1. "It may be a blessing in disguise. ... Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. Haitians were originally under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon the third, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal. Ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other." –Pat Robertson, on the earthquake in Haiti that destroyed the capital and killed tens of thousands of people, Jan. 13, 2010

    March 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • momoya

      You can't make that sh it up.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      And you're point? Because he's a public figure hes grilled on everything he says. Lets drag up your past and see if you've ever said anything racist or hate-filled. And at least two of them 80% of the country agrees.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  11. hippypoet

    i like drugs cuz there soo delicious,
    gunna do more cuz there sooo delicious!
    you wanna do some cuz there sooo delicious?
    no, you can't have mine get your own...why, cuz there sooo delicious!

    drugs! 🙂 mainly weed, but booze are good too... lol

    March 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Opium. Sleep, dream 100 years.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Even though you bogart your Glenfiddich cuz it's soooo delicious!

      March 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  12. The Central Scrutinizer

    Too bad it his him and not someone who is sane. I don't think too many people take him seriously enough to give his opinion much weight. Still, better than nothing. It WILL happen some day.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • air

      ...anyway, the idea should stand on its own merit. P.R. is not the only or the 1st person to present this.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Sativa Verte

      Robertson is a useful idiot.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  13. momoya

    For the first time ever, I sorta respect Robertson's opinion.. You finally won me over on one issue, Pat!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  14. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    My head just exploded.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  15. Let's also make codeine and hydrocodone available OTC.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Actually we should just legalize coca and opium plants so people could just grow their own medicine.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  16. J.W

    It could also boost the economy and reduce crime to make it legal. I think we should explore the possibility of making other drugs legal for this reason, but pot should be first since it is the least dangerous.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  17. hippypoet

    the man looks like he could use a few tokes – loosen up his face!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  18. hippypoet

    pot should be legal as it is less harmful to your body then cigs and booze! the only reason why its not legal is because once it was made illegal it was never taken off the list – that is it!

    March 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Prayed to "god" that if he was real he would make you go away... and here you still are

      March 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • just sayin

      The prayer you offered was wasted. First you need to pray to God not "god". Second you need to understand that talking with God is prayer. Jesus made it possible for all mankind to talk with God 24/7. Third since it is made possible to be continually in conversation with God the "prayer" to ask that someone should stop encouraging prayer is ridiculous.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      It's Ground Hog Day!

      March 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.... I can't believe just saying tried to use logic with his magical fairy... you should have just stock with the "works in mysterious ways" cop out. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

      March 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • MarkTTF

      @Just Sayin

      What were god's hours prior to Jesus making him a 24/7 operation?

      March 8, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~~

      March 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      Studies referenced have been proven false sorry it who takes the Lords name in vain you have long since lost credibility with everyone. God bless

      March 8, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      The Old Testament allowed the high priest to enter God's presence once a year on the day of atonement and then only by special preparations. Prayers could always be offered but the intimacy of close personal contact was rare. In Christ we all in Christ may enter boldly into the presence of God at any time. It is this aspect of prayer that has been made available to us.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Studies referenced have been proven false sorry it who takes the Lords name in vain you have long since lost credibility with everyone. God bless"

      More lies upon more lies proving overwhelming you are a LIAR!

      March 8, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      I meant prayer never changes things

      March 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      Can't wait to hear the atheists crie from hells all the way upstairs. Except Christopher Hitchens. He gets a pass.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
  20. J.W

    Wow I did not know this. I guess I do agree with him on one issue.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:30 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.