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

    COLOSSIANS 2:20 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.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  2. Jeff Lucas

    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 –...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."

    March 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  3. MsKitty

    Jesus said " its not what goes into a man that defile, it's what comes out of the HEART that defile"

    March 8, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  4. Jeff Lucas

    ROMANS 14:13 "Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place a STUMBLING BLOCK before a brother or sister. I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself; still, it is unclean to the one who considers it unclean."

    March 8, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  5. Jeff Lucas

    ROMANS 14:10 But you who eat vegetables only – why do you judge your brother or sister? And you who eat everything – why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.” Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  6. Jeff Lucas

    ROMANS 14:1 "Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions. One person believes in eating everything, but the weak person eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not despise the one who does not, and the one who abstains must not judge the one who eats everything, for God has accepted him. Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand."

    March 8, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • MsKitty


      March 8, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  7. Amanda Neal

    Legalize Marijuana, controlled and taxed but legalized for the benefits of all, specially those who need it.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  8. Jeff Lucas

    MATTHEW 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”

    March 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  9. lloyd roberts

    God bless you Pat. For once you spoke the truth without kowtowing to the politics of prohibition. Your comments are well thought out and yes, this is the land of freedom. I've seen worse behaviour from alcohol than I've seen with marijuana. It time to stop this war and be truly conservative - limited government.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  10. Jeff Lucas

    GENESIS 1:29 Then God said, “I now give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for FOOD.
    1:31 God saw all that he had made – and it was VERY GOOD! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
  11. Mike

    The war on drugs is a farce. Regulate, tax and bring it out of the shadows. Society will be much better off.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  12. Jeff Lucas

    We should lend thought to this greater spiritual Truth for which the Bible is compiled as evidence of; That Christ made atonement covering and salvation for our souls. "For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that he world through him might be saved. God publicly displayed him as the mercy seat accessible through faith, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, but by grace are you saved through faith, and it's not of yourselves, it is a gift from God. For whosoever believes in Him will not perish. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

    March 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  13. Jeff Lucas

    To summarize; The Christian world view and the ONDCP world view can be sharply contrasted. In the ONDCP world view, the Truth is "everything is toxic" and application is "just say no". In the Christian world view, the Truth is "God's creation is good" and application is "be ye sober". The Scripture provides us a sharper, more accurate understanding and response to the subjects of cannabis use in society than the secular drug use prevention community. And as Biblical passages are weighed and discovered as this more accurate Truth, it should bear witness that the Gospel message of Jesus Christ is Truth.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  14. Jeff Lucas

    In the presence of the negative implications of statements such as "there is no way to teach this to you in a brief, " and, "everything is toxic, there is no harmless substances. ", the Christian should be reminded that encouraging formalism and asceticism as the result of false teaching is traditionally known as the activities of demons [6]; and the acknowledgment of liberty of conscience in a free moral agent is the formation of evangelical theology- for this very reason the Reformers left the Roman Catholic Church! [7]. 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 results from these ascetic teachings. [8,9,10]

    March 8, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  15. Jeff Lucas

    To further discover the long term consequences of these unnatural teachings, we can observe the characterizations and acts employed in the war on pot have a resemblance to the warnings in Scripture regarding the signs of false teachers (which are directly linked to signs of the coming Rapture of Christ's church). The war on cannabis shares at least 2 key qualities as the Gnostics.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  16. HolyJeeebus

    OMG - Did Pat Robinson just make sense!?!? never thought I'd see the day he and I saw eye to eye on anything....

    March 8, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  17. Jeff Lucas

    There is a certain contrasting quality between judgments within the world view of the proponents of the war on cannabis and Christian theology.
    The "everything is toxic" philosophy embraced by the ONDCP toxicologists and controlling offices such as the FDA and DEA is the exact opposite of sound Christian theology [1,2], and the corollary truths built upon it are not Biblically founded, and can be proven to be Biblically incorrect. -And if it's not Theologically true, if it's not true in the Bible, than it isn't true at all [3].
    No Bible believing Christian can accept any "toxicology" studies or reports from the ONDCP in good conscience, when they consider the axioms that were used to build their studies. Do Christians adhere to "scientific" theories about big bang and evolution? No, and we can also reject the observations of the ONDCP about cannabis on similar grounds when all things are considered in a clear systematic theology. One must "Test The Evidences" that come from outside Scripture.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Stinky Pete

      Far out, man

      March 8, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
  18. Jeff Lucas


    March 8, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  19. connor

    This is great maybe now conservatives will get behind legalization.

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

      Only ONE candidate for President supports legalizing pot. a CONSERVATIVE, Ron Paul. The only reason people think legal pot is a liberal issue is because the Lobbies like NORML and MPP and DPA are all run by Liberals, not because all potsmokers are liberals.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      jeff: how do you know about the political views of the norml, mpp, etc. leadership?

      March 9, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  20. Cin

    I am in agreement with Pat. People are in jail for 6 to 10 years for a little smoking. They are not selling it. Why lock up and pay to keep an individual incarcerated for a plant that is known to be medicinal. Laws need to be changed. Millions die at the hands of alcohol drinkers! When do you hear that millions die at the hands of marijuana smokers.

    March 8, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Steve

      I have never heard of someone going to jail for 10 years for smoking weed.

      IMO Pat Robertson is only disgusted by white christians going to jail. I'm sure he doesn't feel the same way about crack, which mostly affects African Americans.

      March 8, 2012 at 10:16 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.