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. Thinquer

    can you please log me out now? ty!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  2. Wes Scott

    Pat, wipe that silly grin off your face and move away from the plate of brownies!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • neil

      Yes, enough of the brownies onto to the "kool-aid" Lucy has it, She's in the sky with diamonds!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  3. Thinquer

    Wow that's a big ol' smile on Pat's face. Looks really really really happy!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  4. Alex

    GOD BLESS THIS MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  5. moon627

    He says he hasnt smoked it and doesnt intend to but i bet it would help out those aches and pains of arthritis and other things that ail the elderly . . . Try it – youll like it 🙂

    March 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  6. Ristin

    I"m a Mormon mother of six children...ages 32-17. Three children are college grads... two are in college and one will be on her way. My husband and are both educators. I was an adjunct English professor for 20 years while raising my family and currently teach at a middle school. My husband teaches and coaches at the high school level. Our son... on an academic scholarship at a university was caught with marijuana. He was placed on probation about a year ago. He travels from campus to his home county ( a 45-50 minute drive) nine times a month for drug tests and to meet with his probation officer. Sometimes the city testing site is closed and he must travel an additional 30 miles. When I drive him, I'm in the car for three hours. This young man was a three-sport varsity letter winner in high school and a state scholar, He was recruited by this university to play basketball. He had scouts from the University of Michigan watching him for baseball. He's a super young man. He has never had a "poor" drug test. A couple of weeks ago, he was warned that his urine was deluted. He needs to drink a lot before he gets in the car to travel as he leave right after classes. At the testing site, they're not happy campers if one shows up and can't "produce." Now, I"m a nervous wreck... always worrying he will have drunk too much. This has cost us nearly $2,ooo dollars. It could cost him federal financial aid. The long arm of the law has kept me awake and on Xanax for a year. I feel as if he's been treated like he murdered someone. I fully agree with treating marijuana like alcohol. He being treated like the criminal he's not. It has affected our entire family... sisters in tears.... We all feel as if we've been living someone else's life. He had a court date and addresses the judge as "sir." The judge asked him to stop. Please, help stop this madness. THIS SHOULD NOT BE A CRIME.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  7. malik

    His advice was revealed to him by Satan.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • neil

      Really Malik you believe in devil fairytales, OOh! Satan the great fallen angel must be whispering things in his ear in themiddle of the night. Please get a therapist!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • saopaco

      Actually Malik, I am to blame for this one. I was whispering pro-gay propoganda in his ear to advance the Gay Agenda when i wondered what would happen if I added a few lines in support of weed.

      Figures he would take to the ganja and keep on hatin the gays. I will keep workin on him, though!

      March 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • It works! It really does!

      I prayed for Pat Robertson to become a druggie, AND IT WORKED!

      GOD IS GOOD!

      That does mean that the true god is the Rastafari god Jah, though.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Cleareye

      Prayer changes nothing.
      Action and honest opinion change things.
      The overwhelming guilt from his earlier opinions finally got to his conscience and he had to come clean. Pot is virtually harmless, not nearly as dangerous as alcohol which is used in religious ceremonies. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • saopaco

      Show your empirical evidence or i will pray that you get warts.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • neil

      Actually, it is much, much more healthier, as it adopts shall we say "a critical reflection questioning thinking mind, ipso facto, emotional intelligence, rather than the infantile enter to the fundamentalist right: "See no evil, hear no evil speak no evil"

      March 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  9. Allen

    Holy crap, I can't believe I am saying this. I just earned a ton of respect for Mr. Robertson today. Holy Crap; The end is near!!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • The Four Stoners of the Apocalypse Stop at Taco Bell for Munchies

      Yep, it's the end of times, all right. Pat is just pre-rapturing with some righteous bong hits, just for practice.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  10. MR.B

    's For all those who say marji. is a dangerous drug look at Europe. It's all but legal in many places and yet they don 't nearly the drug "problem" that we do. Why? Becauase they treat drug abuse as a medical issue, not a legal one. Grow up America, weed is not a strong intoxicant (far less damaging than alcohol). Legalize it and people will get bored with it.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  11. 1plus1

    The "most free country on earth" has the highest rate of incarceration.

    Something is wrong with this picture.

    Otherwise innocent people go into prison with nothing but fear and a marijuana charge, and come out of prison as career criminals, gang members, or worse.

    You can get marijuana easier in prison than you can on the outside.

    This insanity has gone on far too long. We the People need to take a hard stance on this. It's hurting our society, it's hurting our economy, and most importantly – it's not a characteristic of "the most free country in the world".

    March 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  12. DW

    FYI: Legalization is NOT the same as decriminalization. I life in a state where it is decriminalizes, but it is definitely not legal. It just means that you cannot go to jail for it, but you can still recieve a fine and it will still go on your record and can affect employment, student financial, etc.

    Decriminalization = still illegal, but not a "ciminal" act so no jail time. Fines, etc still apply.
    Legalization = Legal to have and use without fines or other sanctions (but can still be regulated and taxed like booze, prescription meds, etc.)

    I am generally for legalization, but I'd like to know more about if there are tests similar to a breathalizer to help law enforcement in the field tell when someone is driving under the influence or other activities that endanger others. Can anyone fill me in or direct me to where I can find such info?

    March 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  13. cbinal

    He said that it was amazing how many of these people go to jail over the possession of a very small amount. They only had a small amount because they smoked the rest. Hahaha. Maybe the law does need to be changed so that you can posses it, grow it, sell it, use it, etc. but, most of the people really go to jail for being under the influence. The possession charge is just an attempt to deter the poblem – which isn't working. Why? Because people who do drugs are just stupid. You can't fix stupid. So you might as well make money off of them. I'm starting a farm the day it's legalized and I'll get rich, because I'm not stupid enough to smoke away the profits.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • 1plus1

      "most of the people really go to jail for being under the influence."

      Do you have any source for this? It sounds like you made it up.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Joe

      That's the stupidest thing I've ever seen written. "People who do drugs are stupid"...really? Our last three Presidents have admitted to doing drugs. I smoke pot almost every day and I generally score the 93+% on every single standardized test I've ever taken.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Cleareye

      One problem with your plan. You know nothing about pot so you had better stick to growing turnips. Lots of drugs use is stupid, pot is not one of them. Drinking a six pack a day is more stupid.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • cbinal

      @1plus Just a general statement. Many of my relatives are or have been Police Officers. They don't just stop people because they look like someone who might do drugs. They have to have a reason.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Joe – you can be my first customer. Stupid was what I think of people who do drugs, not their IQ.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • cbinal

      @Clear I agree, drinking is "more stupid". And I've done it a few times, long long ago and I inhaled the hell out of it. Hahaha. I know what it will do to you and how to grow it.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Joey

      Yes Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were complete morons who's lives were destroyed by the evil weed. Next

      March 8, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • ike

      People that do drugs are stupid? Please, put down the bong and try to rationalize. Everyone does drugs in one form or another. Never take another tylenol or fill out a prescription. You think there's something 'special' about over the counter drugs that exempt them for the same health risk street drugs provide? Whitney Houston, MJ, Heath Ledger, Elvis, what drugs killed them? It wasn't street drugs, it was prescription drugs.

      I've never heard anyone ODing on marijuana, or building a mad addiction to magic mushrooms.

      Rephrase your statement to "People who abuse drug use are stupid," and I would agree. Otherwise no.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  14. mullahfullahbullah

    Maybe Pat has seen the light.........

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

      What the he..I agree with Pat Robertson on something?!

      March 8, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • mullahfullahbullah

      Hey saopaco, You read my mind.... I about said the same thing. Is the world ending?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  15. Stern

    Kids are already too stpd these days. Ofcourse, pot is known to increase amnesia and loss in memory.

    Allow kids to smoke more pot so that the next generation is even more stpder

    March 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • J.W

      Well then only allow it for those 21 and older.

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

      Is this Howard? Is stpdr or stpd even words?

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

      Is that what happened to you?

      March 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Wes Scott

      Apparently, you have smoked more than your fair share!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Joey

      Take your finger out of your nose and stop drooling on yourself.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • ike

      I'll let you in on a secret Stern..

      The kids are already on drugs. If they're not smoking pot they're getting pharmacutical profiteer drugs like aderol; crack energy drinks, and sniffing glue. Let's remember that alcohol and nicotine are drugs as well.

      So you know, Missouri, a state at the center of the country, is the meuhathatimine capital OF THE WORLD. The war on drugs will not work because it hasn't. Criminalized marijuana is a waste of tax payer dollars and police enforcement resources.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  16. Will

    Statistics and scientific study as proved that marijuana is indeed less addicting, unhealthy and dangerous than alcohol. Any sensible, education person would agree that it should be legalized, taxed and regulation like alcohol and tobacco. Our laws need to be consistent and just.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  17. Fear and Loathing in Salt Lake City

    Pat Robertson was somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold. He remembered saying something like "I feel a bit lightheaded; maybe you should drive...." And suddenly there was a terrible roar all around them and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, which was going about a hundred miles an hour with the top down to Las Vegas. And a voice was screaming "Holy Jesus! What are these goddamn animals?"

    Then it was quiet again. Fred Phelps had taken his shirt off and was pouring beer on his chest, to facilitate the tanning process. "What the hell are you yelling about?" he muttered, staring up at the sun with his eyes closed and covered with wraparound Spanish sunglasses. "Never mind," Pat said. "It's your turn to drive." He hit the brakes and aimed the Great Red Shark toward the shoulder of the highway. No point mentioning those bats, I thought. The poor bastard will see them soon enough.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  18. Jonboy

    "Is it getting cold down here, or is it just me?" – Satan.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  19. Steve

    Somebody must've got Pat high.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  20. Ted

    Wow, ol' Pat finally said something that makes sense. Amazing how age sometimes brings clarity.

    March 8, 2012 at 5:50 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.