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. redneckeray

    you got balls calling his god insane

    March 9, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • sam stone


      March 9, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  2. todd h

    A rational and well said arguement to legalize, tax and regulate. The current prohibition costs America billions, and costs our youth their freedom and future, when caught with a small amount. It will be legal in the US in the next 10 years, as soon as states like WA and CO fall, the rest will follow.

    March 9, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  3. jimmyd787

    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 really? really? he really said that? it's been over 30 years ago since someone got 10 years for that......

    March 9, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  4. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 9, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • David

      But Religion explains nothing.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • Bob H

      Two hands working accomplish more than a thousand hands clasped in prayer.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Jesus

      ~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!~~...`

      March 9, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  5. Sydney

    Just like legalizing Alcohol has solved all the problems connected with drinking it and there is no one that is ever hurt our dies or wrecks their car, or abuses anybody when drinking, legalizing pot would solve all the problems that lead to heavier drugs and the abuse that goes along with drug abuse ???? Lets just legalize everything and there will be no more problems at all ??? Dumb idea !!!!!!!!!!!! We need to make all alcohol use illegal immeadiately, and keep the laws we have now on smoking and possesing pot ??? Pat is just getting old and senile and should just silently retire and keep this stupid idea to himself !!!!

    March 9, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • lol

      lol, yah right

      March 9, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • sam stone

      Yeah, Sydney, prohibition worked sooooooo well.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • josh

      While we're at it, we should criminalize stupidity and lock people like you up immediately with mandatory life sentences. The world definitely needs less stupid people.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • David

      I use no drugs, alcohol or tobacco but know that the prohibition of these substances leads to even bigger problems. Toxic moonshine killed or blinded thousands. Revenuers and DEA officials can be corrupted with bribes that eclipse their wages greatly. Gun violence is rampant in protecting turf and in commiting hold ups for money to buy drugs at the higher street values. Meanwhile 35% of all incarceration is for the non-violent crimes of possession or sales of MJ to the tune of $18 thousand per year per inmate to the taxpayers. There is no more evidence that MJ leads to more addictive drugs than that Pepsi leads to beer drinking. It all depends on if one enjoys MJ, or has a predisposition to heavy drugs.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • Techclique

      You are so right, why didn't anyone else think of that? Oh yeah, that's right because we tried that experiment before, it was called Prohibition and was such a marked success. Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it....

      March 9, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  6. angryersmell

    The doors of heaven just opened a little wider for ol' Pat.

    March 9, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Steve

      The door just slammed shut.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • sam stone

      And why is that, Steve?

      March 9, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  7. The Changling

    If it grows in nature it can't be worse than man made.

    March 9, 2012 at 6:30 am |
    • rmtaks

      Cyanide is natural in many plants. Marijuana should be legalized, but the "natural = better" argument is just dumb. Yes, natural things can be better than the synthetic equivalent, and are usually better-known because they have thousands of years of testing.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Virologist

      Such ignorance gets people poisoned. Natural does not mean safer. There are plenty of toxins and poisons found in nature. Ricin and cyanide are both natural and found in plants. Many herbal remedies are toxic in high doses. The dose of such remedies can vary and people often use more than directed; they assume they are safe and think more is always better.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Also anything man made starts out using naturally found ingredients.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Steve

      thats a really dumb comment

      March 9, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  8. Study People

    I didn't know that Pat smoked Pot. I mean, anyone who advocates Legalizing Marijuana has to smoke Pot....Right, Right Wing?

    March 9, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • TJRedneck

      There is the industrial side of legalizing pot(hemp) we are looking at, not just being able to smoke a joint. Hemp is a great product that can be used in all kinds of clothes, etc., and we are missing the boat big time. Personally I don't smoke pot because I don't want to lose my job because of a drug test, but I think it's stupid that if I want to smoke a joint after work, I can't. I can understand employers not wanting you to show up to work stoned, but after hours I can get drunk but not smoke a joint, that's just messed up.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Steve

      No he doesnt need to smoke it to advocate it, just has to be dumb and old and not thinking straight.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • sam stone

      So, Stevie, since you are in the habit of calling people dumb, tell us why he is wrong.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:33 am |
    • sam stone

      so, steve, still waiting on that insightful explanation.

      March 9, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  9. babooph

    It will take something a lot stronger than grss ,to get me to believe any of this deluded fools drivel....

    March 9, 2012 at 6:07 am |
  10. O.S. Bird

    I love it. God said, "Pat, I want you to smoke a doobie".

    March 9, 2012 at 6:06 am |
  11. Linda

    Think of the revenue it would raise if it were legalized and taxed like alcohol and cigarettes! It would also create jobs, and take millions (if not billions) away from the Mexican cartels....pot isn't the gateway drug...alcohol is. I know of no one who was under the influence of pot that went on a violent crime spree. A "same day" drug test that would detect it's use within the past 12 hours would have to be developed, and 'under the influence' rules while working and driving should still apply. Pot isn't going away, and now with the increasing popularity of dangerous synthetics, it makes sense that the time is now for some serious discussion about the possible benefits of legalization. Unfortunately, I don't think there is a politician out there that is brave enough to risk his political career to broach this subject.

    March 9, 2012 at 5:57 am |
  12. Mr. President

    My name is Omaba and I support this message. Anyone seen my crackpipe?

    March 9, 2012 at 5:55 am |
    • sam stone

      wow. that was very clever, using this to take a shot at the president. how DO you come up with these gems?

      March 9, 2012 at 7:00 am |
  13. James in SC

    Pat for president!

    March 9, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • noteabags

      He could be Santorum's VP.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  14. Michael

    Pat Robertson and his ilk are one of the tried and true scams. People have and will line up to line his pockets.
    Americans should try less religion and more morality.

    March 9, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • Bismarck

      Thank you Mr. Perfect.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Loriel

      Stop judging someone you do not even know. You know nothing about this man other than his faith. Neither do I. Remember; remove the log from your own eye before you comment on the speck in someone else's.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  15. Dom

    Wow.. First sensible thing I've ever heard Pat Robertson say. Amazing.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • noteabags

      First time for everthing.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Steve

      He has made a huge mistake, he will take this comment back soon and apologize to America and God.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • lol

      lol, Steve still lives in the 1930s.

      March 9, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • sam stone

      " 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. "

      So, Steve, why does he have to apologize to god for that statement?

      March 9, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  16. Jerry

    Been saying that for years!

    March 9, 2012 at 4:56 am |
  17. Leif

    A broken clock is right twice a day. Robertson is a dinosaur.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:53 am |
    • robert

      Name one reason why it should be illegal Leif. Then name one reason why alcohol should stay legal.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • Brett

      @robert those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeated it. Please google prohibition in the US and see what became of it. Does the name Al Capone ring any bells? Now stop being part of the problem and try to become part the solution.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:28 am |
    • Flinders, the Butler

      Reason #1 : nausea control for cancer patients, in whom no other drug works.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • Sid Airfoil

      Robert: THey should both be legal because drinking alcohol and smoking pot in and of themselves violate no one's rights. And in a free country only things that violate the rights of another should be illegal.


      March 9, 2012 at 6:20 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      I think you misunderstood the broken clock comment. Clearly it meant Pat was right about the pot issue and wrong about everything else he's ever said. Pat is ideologically repulsive on so many levels but for some inexplicable reason he's come to see the light with regard to prohibition on weed.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:22 am |
    • Flinders, the Butler

      Actually, name one reason it should be illegal.

      March 9, 2012 at 6:23 am |
    • sam stone

      i think people are misinterpreting robert's post

      March 9, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  18. robert

    Portugal has decriminalized all drugs with great success. The drug rate is at historic lows and the money that used to go to the drug enforcement is now going to drug treatment centers. Portugal should be the model of the world when it comes to decriminalizing marijuana.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:46 am |
  19. Leif

    Hey, CNN editors, wake up. Some of us have real jobs.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:45 am |
  20. Leif

    He also blames the recent tornado victims for not praying enough to his insane god.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:32 am |
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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.