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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. John

    When it's legalized, I want to have a marijuana garden in my back yard. Maybe my front yard too and under my skylights. Yeah.. Maybe they could sell seeds at Home Depot. Grow your own, smoke your own; I like the concept.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  2. mikeohhh

    @lulz oh contrar: the longest sentence in Arizona is 1.5 – 3 years, with 4lbs or more.
    I accept you apology.
    less than 2 lbs misdemeanor or felony 6 months – 1.5 years $750 – $150,000
    2 lbs to 4 lbs misdemeanor or felony 9 months – 2 years $750 – $150,000
    4 lbs or more felony 1.5 – 3 years $750 – $150,000
    Near school or bus felony additional 1 year additional $2000

    March 9, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  3. Reality

    Camel Cigarettes

    Early Slogans:

    Slow down. Pleasure up.
    It's your taste
    Where a man belongs
    More Doctors Smoke Camels than any other Cigarette
    For Digestion's Sake – Smoke Camels
    I'd walk a mile for a Camel

    Then came the epidemics of lung cancer and emphysema !!!

    March 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  4. Homer10

    So, Pat. What's up? So what do you think? If Jesus came back today, would he drinking wine, or smoking bud? Jesus was a bit of a rebel. Your logic is refreshing. Now do you see why separation of church and state is so important?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  5. twalk

    hmmmmm...does Pat secretly like weed.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Homer10

      I wonder? Hmmmm.... I seem to remember his eyes were a bit blood shot. Well not really blood shot, but just lightly red. Hmmmm.... He's gota be doing some Purple Erkle.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  6. danny

    Ron Paul has been saying this for years.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Drew

      Thank you! Ron Paul 20121

      March 9, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • José Buenaventura Durruti

      A true libertarian has no leaders. Ron Paul and his followers are just a slightly different flavor of conservative. And his campaign was DOA right from the beginning.

      March 9, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  7. mikeohhh

    Nobody get's "10 years" for smoking a few puffs of Marijuana–not even 10 months. It sounds like he hasn't really done much research on the subject.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • lulz

      tell that to the people of new orleans or arizona where even tiny amounts are felonies. sounds like you havent done your research..

      March 9, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • Homer10

      But in New Orleans, you can buy your way out of prison.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Lawrence

      1 puff equals 100 pounds, 10 puffs make it half a ton. They were most likely smoking what they were suppose to sell.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  8. Ranger Bob

    well its about time, someone is finally making sense here!...............I dont even know of anyone dying from liver disease, smoking pot? do you?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:02 am |
    • Homer10

      Hay man, that paper cut was horrible. I needed something to get through the pain. You know, a little something to get you by.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • Ranger Bob

      Congress must smoke there brains out then, they are the dumbest citizens on this planet...................Its time you'all step down or out , too!!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  9. Reality

    The reference below is required reading for those wanting to legalize another dangerous drug. We have enough health and safety issues with nicotine and ethyl alcohol and huge medical costs therefrom..

    http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/infofacts/marijuana

    "How is Marijuana Abused?

    Marijuana is usually smoked as a cigarette (joint) or in a pipe. It is also smoked in blunts, which are cigars that have been emptied of tobacco and refilled with a mixture of marijuana and tobacco. This mode of delivery combines marijuana's active ingredients with nicotine and other harmful chemicals. Marijuana can also be mixed in food or brewed as a tea. As a more concentrated, resinous form, it is called hashish; and as a sticky black liquid, hash oil. Marijuana smoke has a pungent and distinctive, usually sweet-and-sour odor.

    How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain?

    "Scientists have learned a great deal about how THC acts in the brain to produce its many effects. When someone smokes marijuana, THC rapidly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream, which carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body.

    THC acts upon specific sites in the brain, called cannabinoid receptors, kicking off a series of cellular reactions that ultimately lead to the "high" that users experience when they smoke marijuana. Some brain areas have many cannabinoid receptors; others have few or none. The highest density of cannabinoid receptors are found in parts of the brain that influence pleasure, memory, thinking, concentrating, sensory and time perception, and coordinated movement.1

    Not surprisingly, marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory. Research has shown that, in chronic users, marijuana's adverse impact on learning and memory can last for days or weeks after the acute effects of the drug wear off.2 As a result, someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time."

    And for those who were not subjected to the ads of cigarette companies in the days of "smoking was good for your health":

    "Once upon a time, the rich, sweetly pungent smoke of tobacco offered more than dreary old diseases like emphysema and lung cancer. It promised sophistication, se-x appeal, even longevity itself. "

    "A phalanx of white-coated doctors endorses Camel cigarettes in an exhibit that opened this week at the New York Public Library."

    "Movie stars and baseball greats are there, too, in tobacco ads dating from the 1920s to the 1950s. Even Santa Claus is there, puffing on a Pall Mall."

    March 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Ranger Bob

      Sorry, this is not true, go back and hide in your cave!!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Drew

      So you want to ban alcohol and tobacco as well? That really worked well in the 20s.
      Don't you think people can make the decision for themselves whether they want to use these harmful substances or not?

      March 9, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Homer10

      YEAH! BABBY. I'm sparking a big fat daddy for GOD.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Colin

      None of these things you posted are an argument in favor of prohibition. You have to argue why prohibition in itself benefits society. You won't be able to make this argument, because it doesn't. Prohibition does nothing to reduce drug use, but increases the harm associated with it while creating violent crime. Portugal legalized years ago and drug abuse has fallen by half, since.

      Drug prohibition provides no value, only damage.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • Steven A.

      Not surprisingly, marijuana intoxication can cause distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, difficulty with thinking and problem solving, and problems with learning and memory.
      --------------------–
      Also referred to as "getting high."

      March 9, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Lawrence

      Don't forget the Beverly Hillbillies commercials for tobacco and the ever popular Flintstones cartoon ads selling them. Youtube if you don't believe it. We will have tobacco companies sell pot or tobacco with pot mixed in it.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  10. bryan Chambers

    Weed makes you dumb, but it should be up to the individual to say whether they use it. Also, we should tax it to fund schools and social services

    March 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • Homer10

      Yeah it makes you so dumb you sit around typing all sorts of bumb stuff on bloggs so everyone can read it.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Ranger Bob

      Speaking about taxes, lets tax parents more school tax for having more than one child, and tax no one that has not had any children that ever went to school in Pa., or any other state for that matter..in fact anyone over 55 should not pay any school tax, or property tax , its time to come to that reality, too!!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  11. John

    It's interesting walking around stoned. Ever driven your car stoned? Stoned drivers are dangerous. Of course that's nothing new. Possession laws are absurd but I think that stoned driving must be illegal and penalties should not be trivial.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • allanhowls

      Driving impaired is already illegal. I'm not aware of any states that still limit it to alcohol. In my state, being sleepy on legal cold medicine (to say nothing of using one's phone), can get you in trouble.

      But then, on a side note, I've seen studies that show drivers on marijuana are less likely to drive intoxicated in the first place, and if they do (as demonstrated in driving simulators), are far less likely to drive aggressively than do drivers intoxicated by alcohol or cocaine.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  12. The PlatznerPost

    Everybody must get stoned!!! : ) "Pat Robertson speaks out for marijuana legalization"
    If you think the same join The Platzner Post on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter

    March 8, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  13. richard

    Pot illegal and alcohol legal, now that is obscene. I have never got into a fight with a pot head, but have gotten into many a fight with a drunk. Time to come to terms with pot in our society.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  14. Naton_none

    I Agree

    March 8, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  15. jonasgrumby

    WHAT??? This guy has a view I agree with. Wha-wha-whaaaat?

    March 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  16. michael

    Wow, for the FIRST TIME, Pate has opened his mouth and said something that I ACTUALLY agree with!! And I do not smoke, or do drugs, but to fill up the prisons with people that simple want to use something less harmful then hard liquor!!
    Its a JOKE... the expense and cost of putting young men and women in jail for doing something many of the law makers
    and police do but with their drug of choice alcohol! Whats the differance? Research shows that Alcohol is more damaging then pot. People that do drugs don't need prison, they need Love, Help, and treatment.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Kathy M

      I wholeheartedly agree with you, people who have drug problems need to be treated with love, compassion and treatment, not jail time. Jail time or prison is a ridiculous waste of money. I also feel marijuana should be legalized. I believe it is far less dangerous than alcohol and I really don't understand why it has not already been legalized by the federal government. They waste enormous amounts of money trying to do away with it and it has never worked. Wake up and smell the coffee. My husband has stage IV cancer and pot is the only thing that really helps him with his nausea. To think that the federal government considers him a criminal is true insanity. The laws need to change.

      March 8, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  17. Winona Simmons

    Good thinking . You re the best !

    March 8, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
  18. Oral Rabidsome

    Legalize and tax the crap out of it.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  19. Jim

    And Awesome.

    March 8, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  20. carol

    Wow

    March 8, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Jim

      Yea...Wow

      March 8, 2012 at 11:28 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.