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. jimmy

    pat is a curve ball....the Lord moves in mysteries ways

    March 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  2. Jon

    If god made the world and all that and put marijuana in it, then I imagine he wants us to smoke it. I wouldn't want to go against god's word.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Beth Kurland

      Amen, Jon, Amen.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  3. CommonSenseChannel

    The thing I like about this is he's calling a spade a spade. You wanna smoke weed..smoke weed. Don't hand me that.."i'm 22 years old with Chronic back aches" bu!!$#!t. I think you should be 25 to buy it though cause 21 year old will be buyin for 16 year olds all day long.


    March 8, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      Damn good point. And your brain stops developing at 25 so thats a sound number.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  4. Richard

    I'd legalize it, and make driving (car or boat) under the influence of it punishable by 1 year in jail and a $10,000 fine. Smoking around or having care of children while using, 1 year in jail, $25,000 fine and loss of custody. Exposing others to second-hand pot smoke, $5000.00 fine and 3 months in jail.
    How does that suit you LOSER POT-ADDICTS???

    March 8, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • someGuy

      it should be treated as equivalent with alcohol.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Hank

      Have you ever smoked it?

      March 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • ElisIsALLah

      I'd legalize it, and make driving (car or boat) under the influence of it punishable by 1 year in jail and a $10,000 fine. Smoking around or having care of children while using, 1 year in jail, $25,000 fine and loss of custody. Exposing others to second-hand pot smoke, $5000.00 fine and 3 months in jail.
      How does that suit you LOSER POT-ADDICTS???

      OK since alcohol and cigarettes are more dangerous the same punishments apply. And for good measure you should be incarerated for being a dumba$$

      March 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • ElisIsALLah

      Dont forget exposing your children to harmful religious beliefs should be punishable for 10 year max!

      March 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • cosmicsnoop

      But you're nobody and can do nothing but live in your authoritative fantasy-land. Have fun.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  5. cdogg

    Agree with him on pot but not much else, I wonder if he still believes that the teletubbies are gay?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Pete

      They pretty much are...

      March 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • CommonSenseChannel

      You mean gay gay or just gay?

      March 8, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • cosmicsnoop

      They're pretty gay.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  6. Daveinil

    Well, now we know what he's smoking.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  7. smartaz

    I think he just smokes weed.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  8. Majestic_Lizard

    It must be a trick of some kind. He is trying to fool us.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • JR

      Next time he'll be like "And do you know who else got stoned? Jesus."

      March 8, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  9. enough

    that guy is a scary guy too.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  10. Edward Watson

    Wow! The guy is not a complete idiot!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  11. First Sabe Thing

    Wow I have to say that is the first Sane thing I have ever heard that man say. Most of his thinking behind it is very valid. Making pot smokers criminals does just that makes them criminals and makes harder criminals out of many after jail and the cost to our law enforcement and court system is outrageous waste of money. They could legalize it and spend 1/100th of the money spent fighting it for education of potential dangers and using in moderation and such. Actually the tax revenue would pay for that plus some. It would be a huge win win for the entire country to get rid of the madness of illegal pot.

    Did I mention I don't smoke pot, I did some in my twenties but really don't care for it.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Silver

      really? That's insabe.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Beth Kurland

      Yupper. Couldn't agree with you more on everything. Weed=a balanced budget quickly...

      March 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  12. Philojazz

    Remember when some fools thought this fool deserved to be President? They haven't come all that far, have they?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Silver

      He's trying hard to be like the past ones.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  13. reformedmedia

    haven't they heard of a guy by the name of Ron Paul? Runnin for President?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Silver

      Name isn't familiar. Don Peter, was that? Has a son named Bland.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  14. carm

    So he's pro pot, but anti-gay. You can't have it both ways there, Pat.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Texrat

      well,actually, he can. The issues are not related.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • hthoreau

      What?? haha are you being sarcastic because those two dont even releate

      March 8, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • Chris P.

      What does one have to do with the other? I haven't smoked weed in over 20, but I can certainly agree his views on this issue.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • cdogg

      Pot does not make you gay. Although I have seen it make those who were already gay gayer.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      Thats not the qualifications for being gay. silly pants

      March 8, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  15. hansonrhodes

    amazing. Pat Robertson has finally said something i agree with.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  16. wounick

    Who cares what this yo yo says. he just saying to legalize pot so he can garner attention. He hasn't been heard of for awhile so he needs publicity.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  17. Larry O

    This is the smartest thing he has said in years!!!!.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  18. Argle Bargle

    Pat Looks like he's taken a hit or two recently from that video.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  19. Terry Moore

    Pat Robertson is in favor of a liberal and intelligent idea ? Given his general stance on so many other things, this comes as an absolute shock... Way to go Pat.. You are keenly right, the "war on drugs" is a waste of time and money, especially where pot is concerned...

    March 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Michael

      Actually, Terry, this is a very conservative idea.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  20. HughMungus

    Didn't you know when they were talking about the Virgin Mary they were talking about sensimillia?

    March 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Silver

      But then they all would have done her, and she wasn't.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:30 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.