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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. Jeff Lucas

    The Sufficiency of the Scripture
    #5. With regard to the Christian life, the sufficiency of the Scripture reminds us that nothing is sin that is not forbidden by scripture either explicitly or by implication. To walk in the law of the Lord is to be “blameless” (Ps. 119:1). Therefore we are not to add prohibitions to those already stated in scripture. From time to time there may be situations in which it would be wrong, for example, for an individual Christian to drink Coca-Cola, or to attend movie theaters, or to eat meat offered to idols (see 1 Cor. 8-10), but unless some specific teaching or some general principle of Scripture can be shown to prohibit these (or any other activities) for all believers for all time, we must insist that these activities are not in themselves sinful and they are not in all situations prohibited by God for his people.
    This also is an important principle because there is always the tendency among believers to begin to neglect the regular daily searching of Scripture for guidance and to begin to live by a set of written or unwritten rules (or denominational traditions) concerning what one does or does not do in the Christian life.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  2. Jeff Lucas

    OUT OF A MORMON, A POSTMODERNER, TWO CATHOLICS, AND A PROTESTANT, ONLY ONE CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT SUPPORTS LEGALIZING POT; THE PROTESTANT RON PAUL!

    RON PAUL RON PAUL!
    RON PAUL RON PAUL!

    March 8, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  3. AntiPalinAlaskan

    So THAT's why Brother Pat is always smiling like that....

    March 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  4. Jeff Lucas

    [8] Colossians 2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you with
    respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days – these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ! Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.
    If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body – a wisdom with no true value – they in reality result in fleshly indulgence"
    [the characterizations employed in the war on pot are striking resemblance to the warnings in Col.2. "goes on about what he has seen... puffed up by a fleshly mind". The binge drinking phenomena we see in the just say no generation, as well as the licentious rebellion in the 60's, is evidences of the "fleshly indulgence", or antinomian development that springs from these ascetic teachings.]

    March 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  5. Legalize

    Alcohol and cigarettes are more dangerous in nearly every way than marijuana. Marijuana isn't without its unpleasant side effects, but it is a flawed and illogical policy that states that cigarettes, which kill half of all people who smoke them, can be legal while marijuana, which hasn't been definitively proven to kill ANYONE, remains illegal. Also, the main reason why pot can be considered a "gateway drug" is that since it's illegal people are forced to go to shady dealers who also sell harder drugs. Take pot off the streets and you keep casual pot smokers away from harder drugs. Not to mention the billions in tax revenue, and billions in savings from stopping the ruinous "War on Drugs."

    March 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  6. caleb

    never mind the social aspect of it. think of possible revenue that could be created in its taxation. also the money saved in current law enforcement tactics and relief on our overcrowded jail system.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Jeff Lucas

      AFTER 70 + YEARS OF PERSECUTION AND OPPRESSION, POT SMOKERS HAVE MORE THAN PAID THEIR DUES! This Nation doesn't DESERVE to tax pot after their viciousness towards potsmokers over the last 80 years.

      IT'S WHY I VOTED NO ON PROP 19, I DON'T THINK THERE SHOULD BE A TAX ON IT. THEY DON'T DESERVE IT.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Joey

      The only way we will ever have legalized marijuana is to let them tax it. sadly that is the compromise that will have to be made. $50 tax on a ounce of marijuana is not that bad....

      March 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  7. Jeff Lucas

    [2] Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem
    Dualism
    The Biblical account rules out “dualism”. This is the idea that both God and the material universe have eternally existed side by side. Thus, there are two ultimate forces in the universe, God and matter.
    The problem with dualism is that it indicates an eternal conflict between God and the evil aspects of the material universe. Will God ultimately triumph over evil in the universe? We cannot be sure, because both God and evil have apparently always existed side by side. This philosophy would deny both God's ultimate lordship over creation and also that creation came about because of God's will, that it is to be used solely for his purposes, and that it is to glorify him. This viewpoint would also deny that all of the universe was created inherently good (Gen.1:31) and would encourage people to view material reality as somewhat evil in itself, in contrast with a genuine biblical account of a creation that God made to be good an that he rules over for his purposes.
    One recent example of dualism in modern culture is the series of "Star Wars" movies, which postulate the existence of a universal "force" that has both a good and an evil side. There is no concept of one holy and transcendent God who rules over all and will certainly triumph over all. When non-Christians today begin to be aware of a spiritual aspect to the universe, they often become dualists, merely acknowledging that there are good and evil aspects to the supernatural or spiritual world. Most "New Age" religion is dualistic. Of course, Satan is delighted to have people think that there is an evil force in the universe that is perhaps equal to God himself.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • FundiesAnnoyMe

      So what are you trying to say? Is this a long-winded way of saying that you support throwing people in jail for smoking one of God's creations?

      March 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • FundiesAnnoyMe

      Ok, I didn't see your other replies. We agree I think.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  8. English Only

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it....

    March 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  9. Cap'n

    Coming soon to CBN: Pat Robertson's 420 Club.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • jason

      oh man thats hilarious!!!

      March 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • zip

      well played

      March 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  10. Jeff Lucas

    "For it is not the eating that makes unclean, but the intention with which a man eats. If then thou dost not set that aright, you have done all to no purpose, and hast made things worse: for thinking a thing unclean is not so bad as tasting it when one thinks it unclean"
    John Chrysostom, Homily 26 on Romans(Rom. XIV. 14)

    March 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  11. Jeff Lucas

    "The substances are themselves as creatures of God without impurity, and in this their native state are free to the use of all; but the ministries to which in their use they are devoted, makes all the difference... I burn the Arabian product myself, but not with the same ceremony, nor in the same dress, nor with the same pomp, with which it is done to idols."
    Tertullian, The Chaplet, part first, chap.10

    March 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  12. taxpayinghorse

    Would you want someone that gets high watching your children while you at work? Would you want someone that gets high performing surgery or flying an airplane that you are sitting on? Get your head out of your butts america!

    March 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • jimbo

      Are people always getting drunk and baby sitting or flying planes? No, so why do you think people would be getting high all the time? Your not thinking this through.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Jeff Lucas

      WOULDN'T MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO ME. I DON'T DISCRIMINATE OR EXCLUDE POTSMOKERS FROM SOCEITY, OR THINK THEY ARE ANY LESS CAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING A NONSMOKER WOULD DO. THAT'S JUST OLD WIVES' REFFER MADDNESS TALES PREYING ON THE FEARS OF THE IGNORANT. TO BE QUITE FRANK, POT SMOKERS HAVE BETTER DRIVING RECORDS THAN THE GENERAL NONSMOKING POPULATION.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Would you want anyone that consumes alcohol to do any of those things? It's not the intoxicating substance that needs to be closely controlled – the question is whether or not a person is able to properly perform their job, including meeting all relevant safety standards.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      no I want a drunk pedophoile to fly my plane. What kind of argument is that? How about a sober person performs those dutys and then does whatever they want as long as they show up for work sober.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Chris C.

      that's just a retarded argument to make. do people who drink alcohol watch your children drunk? if so, then YOU are guilty for negligence as your are the parental guardian of your children and clearly did not do a background check on your babysitter before entrusting them to someone else's care.

      do doctors operate drunk? if so, they lose their license.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • MsKitty

      They already are!! You just don't know...millions of hard working people smoke MJ everyday and functions so well you don't even realize they are Potters

      March 8, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  13. Jeff Lucas

    "Christian as I am, and by the laws of man a criminal"
    Tertullian, De Fuga in Persecutione, part fourth, V. 12

    March 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  14. Jeff Lucas

    "Be assured that nothing is so good for young Christians as the eating of herbs."
    -Jerome- Letter LIV- to Furia, .10

    March 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  15. Jeff Lucas

    "no one would act rationally in avoiding medicine because of its heresies"
    Origen, Against Celsus, Book 2 chapter 12

    March 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  16. Jeff Lucas

    "we have showed that in the department of medicine, for healing, and sometimes also for moderate recreation, the delight derived from flowers, and the benefit derived from unguents and perfumes, are not to be overlooked. And if some say, What pleasure, then, is there in flowers to those that do not use them? let them know, then, that unguents are prepared from them, and are most useful."
    Clement of Alexandria, Paedagogus, Book 2, chap. 8

    March 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  17. Manuel Norega II 1/2

    In no more than 20 years it will be legal. I know thats a long time but all the people before 1935 have to die off first.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Bob

      And then everyone with a brain has to die or turn it off, then the pot heads can ruin what's left of the country.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      Yeah, pot heads are going to ruin the country. Not the bankers. No.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  18. rdbeard

    How much money is the DEA spending every year on this losing war. Decriminalize and help lower the deficit.

    March 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Bob

      Because pot heads only stop at pot and never do harder drugs, so we won't even need a DEA. Sure, right. More pot head myths.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • FundiesAnnoyMe

      Bob, you are an idiot that believes all of the myths, not us. Thankfully, more people are coming to the comical truth about this contentious plant

      March 8, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  19. Nodack

    Direct deaths from FDA approved drugs in the last decade 10,000.
    Direct deaths from alcohol in the last decade. 350,000.
    Direct deaths from pot in the last decade. 0
    People killed by the drug Cartel in the past decade. 10,000+
    U S money spent fighting the war on drugs in the past 25 years. $1,500,000,000,000.00
    Has the war on drugs been won? Of course not. Where there is demand there is supply, always.

    It's not perfect, but pot is tamer than alcohol on any day. You don't show up to work and down a fifth of Jack do you? Tax it, make money off it. It will just about put the Cartel out of business, save us bucks and get a lot of regular people out of prison that don't deserve to be there.

    On a side note we have recently seen judges getting busted for being paid of by private prisons to fill their prison cells with money making prisoners. This kind of stuff makes me think legalizing pot will never happen, not when there is money to be made off petty crimminals.

    Who pays for all that? Taxpayers.

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

      So you and you along know for 100% certainty that no one has ever died because of pot? Not car crashes related, no fights caused by, etc. I'm pretty sure, like most pot heads, you are wrong.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • Manuel Norega II 1/2

      I get the jest of it. Fools will always die but but has less reprecussions that booze

      March 8, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Nodack

      Number of people that have died in the US since 9/11 because they didn't have health insurance.

      450,000

      We wasted a trillion on Iraq. We wasted 1.5 trillion on the war on drugs. 200,000+ died in Iraq. Can you imagine how far 2.5 Trillion would have gone towards health care for those 450,000 that died in the US as a result of not having insurance? No war and the money towards our own citizens health. Result 600,000 more people walking the planet that are dead now instead. But instead we fight a war to keep that dangerous drug pot off our streets even though no person has ever died from smoking pot.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • Get a clue

      Love when someone has an agenda and isn't afraid to twist logic to prove their point... FDA-approved drugs are approved for the goal of curing/treating an illness. Of course, there are side effects and unfortunately people are occasionally harmed, especially when abusing them. But their primary usage is for true medical purposes. Without them, many conditions simply could not be treated.

      On the other hand, to state that marijuana has 0 direct deaths is a ridiculous statement meant simply to support your agenda here. There are many people harmed by people acting under the influence of pot (driving high) as well as a ton of kids who get psychotic and do something to themselves after smoking pot. Try working on a Psych unit for a week and you'll see for yourself.

      And unlike FDA-approved drugs, marijuana's main use is NOT for medical purposes. Sure, every pothead out there is going for the "medical marijuana" approval but you're truly delusional if you expect people to believe that medicinal purposes underlie the move to legalize marijuana across the board. Pot has always been and always will be primarily a recreational drug.

      Your creative display of statistics better supports that people should be banning alcohol (another recreational drug) than legalizing marijuana.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Nodack

      I said direct deaths Bob. Medically nobody has ever died from smoking pot. People have died in crashes while lighting up a joint probably. Maybe somebody was so stoned they walked in front of a train, but nobody has ever died just from smoking pot. You want to prove me wrong go ahead and try. If you add indirect deaths in there then all the other stats go up as well for all the different drugs. Somebody getting drunk and getting in a fight and dying would be an indirect death.

      March 8, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Nodack

      My stats were all real stats and I do have an agenda getaclue. Over 1000 have directly died from using Viagra. I see the lawyer commercials every day suing all kinds of drug companies for wrongfully death. You are right Alcohol is a dangerous drug when overused at the wrong time. So is pot. Alcohol is legal though and try telling America that you want to take away their Budweiser. There are laws out there that attempt to curb drunk driving as well as DUI for anything which I am for. As a person that has done both I can say that people are much more likely to get into trouble while drinking than smoking. One makes you outgoing and crazy throwing caution to the wind and the other makes you paranoid and cautious with a one track mind. You shouldn't drive under the influence of either. One is legal and the other not. One is ok and the other you go to prison for.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  20. light

    Sometimes even fools will speak wisdom.

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

      What makes him any more of a fool than someone who calls him a fool without knowing him personally?

      March 8, 2012 at 9:46 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.