home
RSS
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.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. Light me up

    Pat...don't bogart that joint man. Seriously, he is right. The entire "war on drugs" needs to be scaled back, it's not working and too many young people have had their lives broken over this.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  2. Yahway

    Like I said, there is hope for you yet Pat!

    March 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  3. jim

    so smoking weed in NOT a sin or immoral. So says Pat Robertson. hmmmmm.....

    March 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  4. SixDegrees

    Good for you, Pat.

    Now shut your pie hole.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Merry Prankster

      LOL

      March 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  5. Jim

    But, without illegal marijuana, we wouldn't have some of the really great humor, like "Up In Smoke" and "Refer Madness"

    March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Merry Prankster

      Or any of the "good" stuff that it leads to!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  6. Mr Chihuahua

    This is what we call a twenny-twen-twen lol!

    March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  7. jdoe

    Why does America insist on throwing non-violent people in prison for something that harms no one else, where they learn to become hardened in order to survive. Then once they're released they can't find a decent job because of a permanent record, and are more likely to turn criminal. This system creates more criminals and further harms society. The only beneficiary is the growing private prison industry.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  8. Spencer

    I absolutly cannot wait for the day this finally happens. I scour at all you caffine drinkers, smokers and alcohol drinkers when you say things like "pot is bad" or "don't legalize another drug!" Your freaking using drugs too you nin-com-poops! The smear champaign against weed was criminal in itself. Whats more criminal is the fact the misconseptions have lasted so long.... its only now some people (the smart ones) are realizing the truths behind pot...

    March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Mr Chihuahua

      Don't scour me, bro! lol!

      March 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  9. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    HELP! What is WRONG with ME? Pat Robertson is beginning to make sense to me!

    March 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Tykie

      You must be high! Lmao!

      March 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  10. UhYeaOk

    I think more conservatives/Christians/Republicans want legal pot more than most people realize. I am a pretty conservative person myself but I am all for the legalizaiton of pot both for medicinal use and for private use. As someone else mentioned in a comment, it is the private prison industry that does not want to see pot legalized, they would stand to lose to much money if it were to happen.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • 1plus1

      Yes, Private Prison industry. But don't forget the lobbying power of the big pharmaceutical companies. They have been spending tons of money schmoozing legislators to keep marijuana illegal. If we can medicate ourselves naturally, then why do we need prozac, zoloft, etc.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Dood

      I'm with you on this. Back in 1985 I went to Jamaica for my high school senior trip. I spoke to some Rasta dudes and they told me they would work their daily job and then after coming home would smoke a doobie and relax. Then get up the next day and go to work. So, I thought, what's the difference between that guy relaxing with his mary jane and some guy in the states drinking a beer or two? I don't think there's much difference. What one needs is self-control and moderation. For the record I don't smoke anything and I drink only on occasion.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  11. kiefern001@hawaii.rr.com

    Well, sorry but by his own admission he's never even TRIED marijuana, so how does he have the slightest idea whether or not it should be legalized? If he had a "couple of puffs" himself, I can almost guarantee he would not support decriminalizing it. He currently likens it to alcohol, and it's just not on the same page. Marijuana is a type of psychadelic; it messes with one's sense of reality. I would say it falls into the category of sorcery as listed in the old testament. Would Roberson be ok with that when he's already so hard core on various lifestyle principles? Of course not. He should have consulted with former marijuana users who have been converted to Christianity before coming to this conclusion, seemingly based on the legal ramifications and his naive categorization of it with alcohol.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • rick

      Have you ever killed anyone? No? Then how can you think murder should be illegal?

      March 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      I am a Christian kiefern001 and I have smoked pot and would vote for legalization if it were to come to a vote. You people who think it turns you into a heroin using addict have no clue what your talking about. If you don't want to smoke pot, dont, but don't tell me what I can and can't do with a weed that is much less harmful than alcohol or tobacco or fast food for that matter.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Eric

      wow, apparently you've never tried weed either

      March 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Dave

      You have no idea what you're talking about.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Will

      Science proves that marijuana is less addicting and harmful than alcohol.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • 38gaucho

      Sorcery from the Old Testament? And alcohol doesn't alter your perception of reality? Evidently being high on God is a straight trip.

      Sober up, and listen to his actual arguments.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      Lol, does this guy really think marijuana should be illegal because it falls under "sorcery" in the old testament. I haven't heard the sorcery argument before, clever. I'm so baked right now and that made me rofl.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Toolfan

      Well its because of ignorant people like you who lack basic facts/ knowledge in sciences and current social condition end up hindering any progress society makes for the better. It was people like you who brought alcohol prohibition, thinking more through your narrowmindedness rather than using realism and factual information. I am not a marijuana user but if you do some research and use a little logic, you should come to the right conclusion.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Light me up

      Alcohol is BY FAR the most destructive of the two, you are very naive and somewhat moralistic to boot. Consulting a "born again" about anything except the bible is pointless, consult an expert, like Pat. He's probably know quite a few smokers and realizes the anti-pot hype is bogus. Go back to your bible fantasy land and let the adults decide.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • kiefern001@hawaii.rr.com

      That's what I mean. His actual arguments aren't as important as what marijuana is really about. Jesus drank alcohol, come on. Marijuana puts you in touch with spirits, plain and simple. Not the Holy Spirit, demonic spirits. And I can almost guarantee that while I smoked weed, I smoked more than ya'll every single day. I grew up in Hawaii. So shut yer traps.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • researchpeople

      No one has ever died from smoking weed, ever. Wasting away in jail or any part of the legal system is completely unjust and needs to end. Open your eyes.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Pharmacist in Training

      You are very mistaken...please see the statistics on EtOH (that's alcohol) and deaths/fights/MVAs/etc, there is a laundry list of adverse outcomes associated with EtOH use. I could go into the differences between EtOH and MJ, based on how they actually work in the body, but that would most likely go over your head considering you still believe in fairy tales...Furthermore, please list me one incidence of a death DIRECTLY attributable to MJ???? B/c I can find numerous examples of people dying as a DIRECT cause of EtOH...I will be finishing with a PharmD degree in May and have also been indulging in MJ for over 10yrs; I think this gives me some sort of credibility when discussing matters of pharmacology...thanks that is it.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • KMS

      Any alcohol doesn't mess with your mind?

      March 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      Hey kiefern001, the old testament was written for the Jews, Christianity is based on the teachings of the New Testatment. As a Christian who has smoked pot for the last 30+ years your argument is rediculous. Anyone who hallucinates after smoking pot has either bought pot laced with something or they have a screw or two loose in their brains. I am guessing you fall into the latter category.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • 38gaucho

      Are you being serious right now Keifern? Marijuana brings out "demonic spirits"? You believe that lightning is thrown down by Zeus, and thunder is Thor banging his hammer?

      You say that you smoked a ton of weed in the past? Evidently you smoked way more than anyone should (everything in moderation people), because you're brain seems to be fried completely. Ironically, if you'd drank an equivalent amount of alcohol, you'd probably be dead.

      Also, Jesus was a hippie. He advocated peace and giving away most of your material possessions. It wouldn't surprise me if Jesus actually had access to some kind of ancient Holy Land ganja.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • kiefern001@hawaii.rr.com

      And it's hilarious to hear you say that I"M naive. I'm not the one making all the meaningless justifications for why it should be legalized. Yeah, LOGICALLY, it should, and Pat's sort-of "it's harmless" take on it is the MOST naive of all. LOGICALLY, for all the propagandized reasons you clowns listed, it should be legalized. But MORALLY, that is not a good idea, because it sends a message. Anybody can still smoke it they want, and I agree that there should not be excessive punishment for its use, but it is MORE harmful than alcohol, spiritually (though physical harm stemming from impairment is far worse with alcohol, I agree). I'm somewhat of a student of weed because I would actually LIKE to smoke it if it were something God blessed. There are certain concoctions that are more like spells or potions, and they have power because they are attached by spirits. Read some Carlos Casteneda and his peyote trips. Same kind of thing.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Pharmacist in Training

      Wait one second...did not God create everything on this earth? Did not MAN create EtOH?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • 38gaucho

      keifern,

      I agree with you that people really shouldn't smoke pot. It's bad for your lungs, bad for your brain, it holds many people back in life. I don't smoke it because it makes me paranoid as balls.

      But alcohol is harmful and holds you back in life too. Alcohol is legal. Cigarettes are very harmful and far more addictive than alcohol or marijuana. Cigarettes are legal. Fast food is harmful and makes people fat which holds them back physically and socially. Fast food is legal.

      The point Pat Robertson and many pro-legalization advocates are making is not that smoking pot is good. The point they are making is that smoking pot is not bad enough to warrant legally prohibiting it, and all the problems and expenses that come with such a policy.

      As for your quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo about spells and spirits, maybe you need to like read some books about rational thinking (look up Rene Descartes, one of the pioneers of the scientific method), or maybe some of the medical science about how marijuana affects the brain (spoiler alert: it is not because it contains evil spirits or has been enchanted by a sorceror). Frankly, most people will laugh in your face nowadays, and rightly so, if you try to use "the dangers of witchcraft" as part of an argument.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Joey

      Alcohol is deadly addictive poison. Marijuana is a non toxic herb. They aren't even in he same galaxy. If you believe in sorcery, you probably need to stop talking and see a psychologist immediately.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • kiefern001@hawaii.rr.com

      Yeah Gaucho, I already knew there would be laughing in my face. The only real difference (in terms of "danger") between weed and alcohol, tobacco, or fatty foods, is that the latter 3 are not conduits for demonic communion. I've already stated that in terms of rational, scientifically studied "dangers," there is no reason to keep weed criminalized. Getting laughed at in the face comes with the territory. Relatively few, even Christians, would agree with me. But as I said, I'm kind of a student of mind-altering substances; I was a tail-end 70's hippie (a real one), and during my formative hippie years, books by a guy named Carlos Casteneda were very popular, as young people were trying to get in touch with something beyond Leave it to Beaver materialism. We all felt "there must be more than this!" Here is a quote from wikipedia under the entry for Casteneda:
      "The term "nagual" has been used by anthropologists to mean a shaman or sorcerer who is believed capable of shapeshifting into an animal form, or to metaphorically "shift" into another form through magic rituals, shamanism and experiences with psychoactive drugs (e.g., peyote and jimson weed – Datura stramonium)." Weed, imo, falls into this realm, as do other hallucinogens, like acid, salvia, magic mushrooms, etc. These are not merely "party" drugs used to have fun. These allow your sense of reality to be altered to the point of feeding you lies about life and the universe. They are what as kids we thought of "potions" made by witches with eye of newt or whatever. That's all fakey, but there is a reality to the power of these kinds of drugs. You may commence laughing in my face now. 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  12. 38gaucho

    What is this? Reverse senility? Pat Robertson going sane in his old age?

    Anyways, no matter what has brought on this lucidness and honesty, bravo Pat. The American incarceration rate is a MASSIVE problem for so many reasons, marijuana is not very intoxicating or harmful (no more than alcohol or cigarettes), and that prohibiting it causes more problems than it is worth. It encourages me that some conservatives can see that.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  13. epicjourney

    Gee, at 81 d'ya think he might have a touch of the senility?

    March 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  14. Bootyfunk

    ya know, usually i hate the guy. but i'll give points where they're due. kudos pat.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • bigeasyman

      Pot is for dummies. Proven time and time again....if you do pot your stupid, it lowers your IQ by about 50 points........

      March 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """if you do pot your stupid, it lowers your IQ by about 50 points"""

      If I were you, dude, I'd keep my "your stupid" comments to *you'reself* [sic].

      March 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      @bigeasy, your clueless. I have an IQ of 138, it has been tested when I smoked pot and when I didn't and both times I scored in the 130's. I would go so far as to say when I smoke I can actually think more clearly and my creativity increases quite a bit. Stay clueless my friend...

      March 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Dave

      @bigeastman

      I would argue that organized religion lowers your IQ a lot more than marijuana. But I'm not that ignorant. I just don't "do" religion.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jerry

      Hey Big Easy Man, I'd LOVE to see the research on your claim that smoking cannabis lowers you IQ by 50 points. I think it much more likely that living in New Orleans drops your IQ by 50! BTW-I'd be more than willing to settle this with you on Jeopardy;)

      March 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Jerry

      Hey Big Easy Man, I'd LOVE to see the research on your claim that smoking cannabis lowers your IQ by 50 points. I think it much more likely that living in New Orleans drops your IQ by 50! BTW-I'd be more than willing to settle this with you on Jeopardy;)

      March 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  15. Reality

    The reference below is required reading for those wanting to legalize another dangerous drug. We have enough health and safety issues with nicotine and ethyl alcohol and huge medical costs therefrom..

    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/infofacts/marijuana

    March 8, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Spencer

      There is no reason it should be illegal.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • musicdorian

      Good job. To make something a huge problem legalizite it. This is proven by alcohol and tobacco. Pot will become even a bigger problem if it is legalized. We don't need more of the population encouraged to smoke this hallucinagen.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • geckopelli

      Don't be a fool. That's all propaganda, contrary to the established facts.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Dave

      @musicdorian

      I have smoked marijuana thousands of times and I've never had any hallucinations and I've yet to kill or rob someone.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      Yea, you post a link to a government study, that is laughable. Simply read the latest study done which was conducted over a 20 year period using thousands of test cases to derive it's conclusions. As it turns out, pot smokers were not more inclined to us other more dangerous drugs, nor did they suffer the lung damage that tobacco users do. When alcohol, tobacco and fast food is made illega I might consider your argument but right now it is all hot air with nothing substantial to say.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Joey

      Your confusing marijuana with real drugs.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  16. St Xavier

    Yes LEGALIZE POT, we take an use worst things then POT an there EAGLE.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • epicjourney

      Sounds like you have been sampling the weed....

      March 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • bigeasyman

      yah man mee too wish shood peak at pot and do it more yah duh

      March 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """we take an use worst things then POT an there EAGLE"""

      Yes, we can see that.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Steve

      "Eagle..." You mean like, friggin' awesome, right?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Merry Prankster

      TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO (inhaling).........EAR

      March 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  17. jdoe

    The private prison industry in American will not be happy about this. They need more "customers" for their prisons. No wonder the U.S. has by far the highest percentage of people locked up. Land of the free indeed.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • rick

      So you think prisons should be run by the government??? But But...that's socialism!!!

      hah, just kidding man, but I have no doubt some rednecks will say what I said but be serious.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Mark of Tennessee

      The truth!!

      March 8, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Mark of Tennessee

      No worries.... with the education system of the U.S. and majority of prisoners are without an high school education, The prisons will still have their feeding system.

      March 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  18. Jen

    We can legally kill babies in our stomach in this country but we cannot light up a weed from the earth rolled in paper and smoke it. WTH

    March 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • bigeasyman

      Well if there was a baby in your stomach the acid alone would probably kill it, and if something comes from the earth (which most of it does anyway) then is it good ? So poison is good 4 you ? Yeah dumb pot smoking moron ?

      March 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Nick

      YOU EAT YOUR BABIES?!

      March 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Merry Prankster

      They also won't let us ingest poppy or coca plants either......and, um.......babies are not in your stomach either.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  19. 38gaucho

    At first I was like: ???!?

    Then I was like: !!! (:

    March 8, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Merry Prankster

      BAHH HA HA HA HA

      March 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  20. Jerry

    This has to be the sanest thing Pat Robertson has ever said.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Advertisement
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.