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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. One one

    What's next ? Is Pat going to start listening to Greatful Dead music and munching down Oreo cookies ?

    March 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      Just one more stupid thing this nut case has said over the years. Who really takes him seriously?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  2. skarphace

    This makes no sense. I think that Ron Paul has developed a technology to take over people's minds. I think that he has taken over Robertson and things are about to get even crazier once Robertson calls for the end of the Federal Reserve.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Ha. But you realize of course that Ron Paul is one of the few in DC who would refuse to use such a device!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  3. Reilleyfam

    He probably smokes himself – lots of closet smokers.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  4. Aaron

    How far behind the curve does it prove Washington conservatives are when Pat Robertson starts looking liberal and reasonable compared to them?

    Obviously, I agree with him for all the reasons he stated, and hopefully DC conservatives will finally get the message that they won't be voted out of office for supporting legalization.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • SciGuy

      But don't hold your breath. The big govt party, both the dem branch and the repub branch, love to control people. They will not give up the drug war without massive public outrage. And, there are too many people, mostly those who consider themselves conservatives and Christians (sic) who also love to control others.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  5. PaulytheB

    God is perfect,
    Man is not.
    Man made whiskey,
    God made pot.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • harold

      That is beautiful, man.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  6. Jefffbo

    I think legalizing marijuana is a great idea, I also think Joe Biden and Pat Robertson continually stick their foot in their mouths.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  7. SciGuy

    Pat is living proof of the old adage, We grow too soon old and too late smart!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  8. MeMelvin

    It is about time to categorize marijuana correctly. A minor intoxicant which deserves legalization, regulation, taxation and education. Just as there is Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). There should be similar organizations against stoners behind the wheel: Hemp and Highway Don't Mix. (No joke intended)

    Not saying: don't get stoned. Saying: don't drive if you are stoned. Not smart or safe!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • skarphace

      I agree. It should be a crime to work or drive while high. It should not be a crime to be at the park while high.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  9. blueeyeskc50

    Medically it is proven that is has more chemical impacts to cause lung cancer. It is smoke where do you think it goes or does to your body,,,good grief!!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Joey

      Complete nonsense. A recent 20 year study was just published that found no correlation between smoking marijuana and lung cancer. There was another 10 year study released last year that found the same thing. Marijuana has anti cancer agents. Read more, talk less.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Sean

      Not one death/cancer has been linked to smoking pot.... FYI

      March 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • skarphace

      While that is true, consider the amount of smoke inhaled when smoking pot vs smoking cigarettes. A hard-core cig smoker will smoke 3 packs a day times 20 cigarettes times 20 inhallations. This means 1,200 inhallations a day. A hard-core pot smoker will get high 10 times a day and will inhale 5 times each time. This means 50 inhallations a day. There really is no comparison to the level of toxins when inhallations are taken into consideration.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • I_get_it

      blueeyeskc50,

      There are ways to use other it than smoking it.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • I_get_it

      sorry for the messed up edit job on that post - and I've never even used the stuff 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Mr Bigg

      That's why people use vaporizers. I have one. You are inhaling VAPORS not smoke. THC vaporizes at a certain temperature before it burns at a certain temperature. Aside from using a glass water bong its the healthiest way to intake THC... other than eating it. And the recent studies that it does not cause cancer or kill people is correct. I would be more on the decriminalizing it end rather than legalizing it because that way it will create more jobs for growers and will keep it more profitable than if we just made it legal. USE YOUR HEADS PEOPLE!!!!!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  10. One one

    This sounds a little fishy. I figure this is either a publicity stunt or his grand kids smoke weed.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Joey

      He has been saying it for a couple of years now. And everyone's grandkids are likely smoking weed. Welcome to reality.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Hey Joey, your mom has been asking you for 2 years to take the garbage out. Do you think you're ready to get off the couch now?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  11. oddjob2234

    Good start, Pat, but instead, why doesn't the court system rule, correctly, that the state has NO RIGHT to make marijuana illegal in the first place, nor does it have the right to make other drugs illegal.

    This is a matter of civil liberties, and thinking you're doing somebody a favor by violating fewer of their rights is nothing of the kind.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  12. Benjamin

    No wonder Robertson is so strange.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  13. Mr Everyman

    The "week" is not alcohol. While driving a year after the last puff people have had hallucinations. Making marijuana legal can create a much bigger DUI problem than the one with drinking. The classic example is 55,000 deaths in Vietnam while 426,000 deaths were DUI related in the same time frame. The right wing seems to be supporting a lot of organized crime pet projects like this and revive the illegal abortion business.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Joey

      You sound like your drunk. Please put down the comic book and try again.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Special K

      Mr Everyman,
      Driving a year after the last puff causes some people to have hallucinations? A year? Really? Where's your scientific evidence? Do you realize how long just one puff of marijuana takes to metabolize in a human organism? Do you really know what you're talking about, or are you just typing whatever you feel like typing? Your "classic example" makes no sense whatsoever, either. Quit your conspiracy theories and talk some sense, man.
      – Special K

      March 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • memyself

      "While driving a year after the last puff people have had hallucinations" ... and your source for this B.S. is... what?
      "Making marijuana legal can create a much bigger DUI problem than the one with drinking" ... or it could not. Do you have any evidence that suggests legalizing marijuana will cause a bigger DUI problem? Don't get me wrong, I think DUI should be illegal. But there is some evidence to suggest that legalizing marijuana may actually *decrease* DUI problems. For example, states that have legalized marijuana use (medical marijuana) have fewer DUI crashes. Google "Medical Marijuana Laws May Lead To Fewer Traffic Deaths" for source.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • skarphace

      Mr Everyman: It really sounds like you are saying that alcohol should be illegal rather than speaking out against pot. All of your arguments could be applied to alcohol.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Not a good debate memyself. Most folks that are given a prescription to use medical marijuana have injuries that don't allow them to drive in the first place.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Believer

      Mr Everyman: Those who disagree with your comments are the users. They don't like anyone "knocking" on their grass. Good brave comments you made.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Believer

      Mr Everyman: Those who disagree with your comments are the users. They don't like anyone "knocking" on their grass. I like your comments.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  14. wisdom4u2

    I think all the residents at nursing homes should be allowed to indulge in ’pot smoking/brownie eating’ if they want to… Heck, most don’t have to worrying about falling down (they’re in wheelchairs), and they don’t have to worrying about forgetting things… shoot, it might help them to remember. I love the elderly people and I think they should have a lot more laughter going on in their later years.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      wisdomnot4u, yes, keep the elderly stoned so that aren't aware that their selfish grandkid doesn't bother to visit.

      Putz comes to mind.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      EXACTAMUNDO!!! That's what I'm talking about....not only their selfish grandkids, but their own freaking spawns as well. I can't believe how anyone can devalue their aging parents....no matter what. We're to 'honor' them....we don't have to like or love them (for those who have been abused by them), but we are the 'honor' them. Give those old folk some POT!

      March 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      that would be *to*....

      March 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  15. TwinBotXenu

    Smartest thing this man has ever said, and it's probably because he was actually smoking ganja at the time!

    March 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  16. zooinb

    Undoubtedly this man got to the correct conclusion via an incorrect line of thinking.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  17. Odizzeus

    Thats the first sensible thing ive ever heard him say

    March 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  18. Robs

    LEGALIZE FREEDOM AND END THE MADNESS

    March 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  19. blueeyeskc50

    Great!!...thats all we need is more types of smoking at public places but more importantly how medically it is proven that is has more chemical impacts to cause lung cancer.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sin1ster

      Smoking is not the only way.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • ATLcjl

      Can you show the data? Almost every report that I have seen shows the opposite. And how you are smoking makes a difference, i.e. joint vs water pipe vs glass pipe, etc.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • shermlin

      Suggest you factcheck. It seems you're missing quite a few studies on the subject...

      March 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Bill

      Good, you can not smoke it and not be a customer at places that allow it. The legalization of marijuana wouldn't effect you any more than alcohol does now (except maybe the stoners aren't as annoying and loud and belligerent as the drunks).

      I wish people who didn't like pot would just admit it. There are no logical reasons that hold enough weight to justify its prohibition beyond someone simply not liking it (within the context of a society that allows nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol consumption).

      March 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • VEDAS

      You are beyond uneducated and quite simply stupid.
      Marijuana has ZERO CARCINOGENS!!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • blueeyeskc50

      Marijuana is not smoked with filters, unlike most cigarettes. Marijuana smoke contains nearly four times as much tar and 50 percent more carcinogens than tobacco. Even if water filters are used it is the carcinogen chemical is still released into the lungs.

      March 8, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Believer

      blueeyeskc50: I agree. And that's what seems ludicrous because marijuana is smoked like cigarette. While inhaled, it may just numb the pain but causes no physical healing. The dope fizzles the mind taking it "somewhere else" because of the dopey stage the drug engages the mind into and has no direct effect on the disease for the cancer sufferers. Indeed it is a deceptive solution which is not a solution at all. In the end, the patient dies anyway.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • I_get_it

      blueeyes,

      It can be prepared and taken many other ways... brownies, teas, even a butter, and I'm sure other ways too.

      -----------------

      Believer,

      Anything is acceptable to relieve the pain of a dying person if they want it.

      Besides, it is also used to relieve the nausea from chemotherapy so that patients are able to get the nutrition they need to heal.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  20. LisaDe

    I usually don't agree with Pat on anything but I agree with him on this point about legalizing marijuana and glad to see someone admit that the war on drugs is not succeeding. Too many people are being murdered over marijuana simply because marijuana is not legal to possess in the US. The ones winning the war on drugs when it comes to marijuana are the drug lords and cartels in Mexico. Legalize marijuana a big part of their nasty business will end.

    March 8, 2012 at 6:23 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.