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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. Conrad Shull

    My guess is he figures pot smokers are going to hell anyway so why bother stopping them.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Maynard G. Krebs

      I guess Pat realized that if there is a God, then he is going to hell, so there isn't any reason NOT to do a nice spliff.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Robs

      Pot was invented by God...you idiot

      March 8, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Jim

      Robs,God invented a lot poisonous substances also.What's your point? Anyone who uses a relatively harmless substance to have fun should go to the darkest recesses of hell.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  2. notogop

    Judgement Day must be near. This is the first thing I have ever agreed with this narrow-minded, sanctimonious zealot about. The end must be around the corner. The Mayans might be right.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Jim

      I didn't know the Mayans believed in a christian judgment day. Please reveal your sources,,,

      March 9, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  3. Bill, Bloomington Il

    I think he is running for president again.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  4. Steve from Tucson

    Hell has surely frozen over, as I could not agree with Pat Robertson's comments on marajuana more! Nothing else that man has said am I in agreement with....

    March 8, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Maynard G. Krebs

      I give it 3 days max before he disavows or retracts his statement.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • arthurrrr

      NEWS FLASH!! –MILLIONS of born again Beleivers in Yeshua/Jesus support decriminalizing of pot and have for many decades. You just arent listening carefully enough. Hundreds of millions worldwide.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Maynard G. Krebs

      Do you have a link or something on those hundreds of millions of finely twisted GonzoChristians? I'd enjoy seeing that.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  5. timz

    Pat meant to come out for legalization in 1975 but only just got around to it .

    March 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  6. Benwah

    He does look blazed in that photo no?! -puff puff pass-!

    March 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  7. Agnes Louise Pickens

    OMG...............did 'hell freeze over' and I missed it.......................knock me over with a feather. Would never have expected him to say this !!!!

    March 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  8. us1776

    A lot of people from all corners of society are finally coming to the same conclusion.

    That the war on drugs has been a massive failure.

    Prior to 1916 no drugs were illegal in the U.S. And that is the type of personal liberty and freedom that the founding fathers supported and fought for.

    Use of any personal intoxicant is a matter of personal responsibility and personal liberty.

    ---------------–

    "Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!"
    George Washington (1794)
    The Writings of George Washington, Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress)

    "Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of
    sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica." ~ Abraham Lincoln

    .

    March 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Jerome Horowitz

      Sorry, but, as much as I want to believe it, but the second quote is much disputed.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • us1776

      Not in dispute at all. It is from a letter written by Lincoln during his presidency to the head of the Hohner Harmonica Company in Germany.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  9. Gary

    I think it must be reverse alzheimers. He's drifting from being a whacko to being reasonable.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • kldgbb

      Agree – LOL

      March 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  10. us1776

    A lot of people for all corners of society are finally coming to the same conclusion.

    That the war on drugs has been a massive failure.

    Prior to 1916 no drugs were illegal in the U.S. And that is the type of personal liberty and freedom that the founding fathers supported and fought for.

    Use of any personal intoxicant is a matter of personal responsibility and personal liberty.

    ---------------–

    "Make the most you can of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!"
    George Washington (1794)
    The Writings of George Washington, Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress)

    "Two of my favorite things are sitting on my front porch smoking a pipe of
    sweet hemp, and playing my Hohner harmonica." ~ Abraham Lincoln

    .

    March 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is unproven

    March 8, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • J.W

      I am confused. I thought prayer was proven. I keep praying for people to respond to these posts and it keeps happening. I think that is proof.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • J.W

      Oh nevermind you are one of those atheist name stealers.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      No it is a pathetic christian with no original thought that stole my handle

      March 8, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • slewatha

      +1

      March 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • no

      to the name-hijacker Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      You Rock!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • J.W

      Name hijacking is stupid no matter who it is.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer is for the weak, helpless, and those who do not have the ability to accomplish anything in our reality.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      It is a sad lonely pathetic human being who sinks so low that it steals a handle on an anonymous blog. How desperate for attention do you have to be to do that?

      March 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      I agree..anybody who posts the same thing over and over is quite pathetic

      March 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • TBM

      Martin Luther King Jr. prayed.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • no

      just sayin – No, you're wrong. It is HILARIOUS!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      "Martin Luther King Jr. prayed." hopefully it wasnt not to get shot and killed.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  13. John

    Well now we know what Pat Robertson has been smoking all these years.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  14. bluedogboy

    For the first time ever, I have to say I agree with this godless, racist, worthless human being.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  15. Dave

    Absolutely SHOCKING level of insight by Robertson. I am sincerely surprised, in a good way. Maybe the tide is finally turning like it did at the end of alcohol prohibition.

    March 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  16. ????

    You are correct Pat. But, common sense will not prevail. Just to much money being made in this no-win war on drugs.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Robert

      Go Pat! Sell it at the Wal-mart, because #1) my friend would rather buy it from Wal-mart than a 15 year old gunslinger from "The Hood" (for obvious reasons). #2) TAX IT at the same percentage rate as cigarettes.(this is a way to begin to recover our country, which is in Foreclosure FOLKS!!) #3) NOT FOR SALE TO MINORS

      March 8, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer never changes things

    March 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Oops I meant it never changes things

      March 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • just sayin

      It is a sad, lonely, pathetic human being who is so bad off as to steal a handle on an anonymous blog.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      I agree and still say prayer is unproven

      March 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  18. IslandAtheist

    He's a pothead.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    March 8, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Oops I meant prayer never changes things

      March 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things .
      Proven

      March 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      It's Groundhog Day!

      March 8, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      I meant unproven

      March 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Thanos

      So what is the point of this rambling?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:36 am |
  20. William Demuth

    Jeebus is gettin ready to call his wrinkled rear end home, and man is he ticked.

    So I guess he wants to get in good with other inmates in hell

    March 8, 2012 at 2:51 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.