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. AJW3

    We need to lock Pat, Rush and sheriff Joe into a room and see which ones head explodes first.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Doyle Lolligan

      Is there a room big enough for those three porkers?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:13 am |
  2. toadears

    I don't disagree with him at all, but I think this might be a clear sign of his advancing senility.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  3. HughMungus

    ... In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Smoke.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  4. ElizabethI

    Booze much much more destructive than Marijuana. How much money would we save in crminalizing younsters. Tax it!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Heather

      Legalize it already!! Let's put debate aside "it's the road to more dangerous drugs" which is completely bogus anyway, and focus on humans going through CANCER and CHEMO(anyone in Congress and Senate should have to spend some time w/ people suffering from cancer before they vote against legalization of marijuana). It is the only substance that helps my sister suffering from Cancer, and it pains me I can't "legally" buy it for her.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
  5. Michael

    I have never in my Life been able to understand why alcohol is legal but marijuana is not. When marijuana is 1,000 times safer. It just doesn't make any sense.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • HughMungus

      Makes lots of $$ense.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • toadears

      1 word: treaties. We made deals years ago, as far back as the 1920's, with Asia and the Middle East regarding how we would treat certain drugs. Mexico threw it all for a loop so they had to criminalize it fast.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  6. PantyRaid

    There are many reasons why they will NEVER legalize cannabis in our time. From medicine to alternative fuel, and textiles, cannabis can do it all.

    PLUS, believe it or not, there are growers out there AGAINST legalization to keep prices up. You obviously wouldn't want to compete with Winston or Marlboro would you? Once they own the market prices will drop enormously, shutting down mom and pop gardens.

    Just to add, it should NOT be taxed. We no longer live in a FREE country where you can grow a flower yourself and enjoy mother nature's natural remedies. They want to tax it so they can CONTROL it.

    By the way, poppy seeds (opium) can be purchased at almost any garden center. Look for the Somniferum variety if you want the "most pretty flowers." (you have to grow for ornamental use)

    What a joke this country has become.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • commentguy

      you are totally right but hopefully it will happen soon, i'd like to see it in my lifetime. just gotta be positive

      March 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • HughMungus

      They call it "sin tax". I call it, Bible meets politics. Notice there's no "church tax".

      March 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  7. HughMungus

    Hit me up Pat, and we'll burn one in the name of God.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
  8. squawks

    I am 1) so tired of reading liberals vs. conservatives, Democrats vs. Republicans.
    2) truly an Independent because I cannot approve of all of the issues of both parties.
    3) wish everyone would think for themselves, not their Party
    4) sincerely would like ALL drugs legalized and tax the hell out of them, just don't drive.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Argle Bargle

      I agree with you.

      But that would mean that people were responsible for their own actions and couldn't blame anyone but themselves for things that happen to them. It has become the American way, y'know.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Tr1Xen

    Ha. Finally something Pat Robertson and I agree on!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
  10. Tom Williams

    Somebody pinch me. Did the 700 Club just become the 420 Club?

    March 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • commentguy

      hell yeah! 420 club!

      March 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  11. Icemann4

    nikinkikn....or whatever your name is.....maybe you and I should get blown out one day together. You'd love it.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • Tr1Xen

      Even better, nlknkjn would probably blow you while you get blown out.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  12. Icemann4

    .....and I'm not kidding!

    March 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
  13. nlknkjn

    If you smoke marijuana and you think it should be legalized youre an idiot. That is all.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Andrew

      Marijuana smokers must all be idiots eh? I coulda' sworn there was a physicist who smoked marijuana before... oh yeah, it was Richard Feynman.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tr1Xen

      If you don't know how to use an apostrophe, you're an idiot.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Matt

      And what do you have to say to all of us that DON'T smoke ANYTHING that still believe it should be just as legal as alcohol? Seriously, it is morons like yourself that make this country a horrible place to raise children. How does smoking cannabis AND wanting it to be legal make someone an idiot? Are you saying all those people that drank alcohol and lobbied to end Prohibition were idiots too? Get a life

      March 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  14. Icemann4

    AAAhhhh yea, the only thing I like more than my guns and weed....is God. So does Mr. Robertson. I support you sir.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  15. Spencer

    I'm happy more than half the comments on here arn't simply a smear against pot. Maybe people are realizing it isn't that bad?

    March 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  16. john

    i'm sure this decision didn't come easy for Pat....but the reality is that all the good intentions about the prohibition of marajuana simply are outweighed by the relative innocense of this drug...especially compared to all the death and social destruction of the drug alcohol...which is legal. it's time to legalize it(marajuana)...tax it ...turn the same law enforcement rersources to defeating the truly sinister drugs such as Meth, Heroin, Crack, and their likes.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • terence

      you missed oxy... oh that's legal.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Why can't I take meth, heroin and crack? Why should you, or indeed anyone, have the right to deny my bodily integrity? Nobody should decide what you can do with your body.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • lilyq

      Below: Most who use it do so illegally.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  17. Joe

    I always find it shocking when a right-winger shows signs of mental competence and rational thought. If only he could apply the same rational thinking to other issues. Oops, that would make him a Liberal.

    March 8, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Bob Owens

      Stay away from the bong for a few hours.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Liberals are just as controlling as right wing nutjobs, just in different ways. Libertarianism is the only way to go to maximise individual liberty.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • Jimmy


      March 8, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  18. Uncle Dutch

    Marijuana will never be legal as long as the international treaties prohibiting it's distribution remain in place. It has nothing to do with (at long last) allowing the pot heads of the world to get stoned with no anxiety, it's to ensure that the lumber, cotton, petroleum and pharmaceutical industries maintain their economic hegemony or allowing a hearty uber-useful plant that will grow wild in a ditch to compete with, let alone ursurp their obscene profit margins. Coming to maturity in just 6 short weeks, it makes a tighter bonded paper, a softer & more robust and longer-lasting cloth, the seeds when pressed release a lubricant that rivals petroleum-based oils and still to this day eludes every effort of the drug companies to copyright & brand it, as I said, 'cause it'll grow wild in a ditch. You can thank William Randolf Hearst for ensuring chronic wound up and remains on Schedule 1. It's a quite fascinating, yet cautionary story of how that all went down in the '30s for anyone curious enough to do their own digging

    March 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Elmo

      Yea but its America that created and pushed those treaties. Tricky Dick started the WAR back in the 70's.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Jimmy

      Yeah that was all true about 100 years ago. Hemp does not offer any threat to any of those industries any longer, and I can go to the store and buy hemp products now.....so make all the hemp oil you want and deal with the world as it is, not as it was.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Aaron

      Excellent post

      March 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  19. gg

    He smokes...

    March 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • matty bones

      You can tell by the grin. 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  20. thefunkymonkey

    mother of God

    March 8, 2012 at 8:24 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.