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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. Gabriella Wahpekeche

    I was honored to get a call coming from a friend immediately he uncovered the important suggestions shared on your own site. Looking at your blog publication is a real excellent experience. Many thanks for taking into account readers like me, and I want for you the best of success as being a professional in this field.

    May 15, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  2. The Obama Christian Church Worldwide

    When president Obama becomes of divine order on October 21st of this year, things will be put in perspective. We need to read the good gospels of Obama because he is a good christian family man and will be God on October 21st of this year.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  3. J.W

    I think God is ok with people smoking marijuana. Otherwise he would not have made it. Marijuana is just a plant just like dandelions or tulips.

    March 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Eric

      Here are the facts: 1) Cannibis is 100% non-addictive. This cannot be said for caffiene
      2)It is not a gateway drug, 85% of cannibis users do not do any other form of drug (excluding caffiene and alcohol).
      3) It is physically impossible to overdose on cannibis.
      4) Cannibis is not physically harmful to your body, in fact, canibidiols (a chemical found within the plant) actually contain anti-carcinogenic properties. In one particular study it reduced breast cancer tumor growth by 60%
      5) Cannibis does NOT reduce or inhibit your long-term memory, nor does it kill brain cells. While under the effects of the plant these motor functions are SOMETIMES inhibited. However, it also increases function in other areas of the brain. Such as creativity and empathy (and we could use more of this in the world)
      6) The economic effects dont simply come from taking people out of the prison system. In California alone the first year that cannibis was made available it generated 3 billion dollars in taxes for the government. Compound that number nation wide and you see a signifcant boost to the economy and a dent put into the national debt. Aside from selling the smokable "buds" of the plant. You could sell the entire hemp plant. Hemp is an excellent source of rope, clothing, paper and last but most importantly BIOFUEL. Yes, thats right. Hemp has the potential to replace the demand for trees as biofuel. With one difference....it reaches maturity in a single growing season, rather than decades for trees.

      We need to stop being afraid of change

      March 19, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Pete

      JW,saw REFFER MADNESS,then bought a pound,never the same since.They should quit complaining,these politicians should roll one and pass it around,then there'd be no bickering,just a bunch of old farts with the munchies...What a great idea ,what problems,we ain't got NOOOO problems.I salute my idols,Cheech and Chong,they had the right idea.....

      March 21, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  4. Sam Lies

    The Christians writing in opposition of Pat Robertson are ABSOLUTE HYPOCRITES!!!!!!!!!! What about the coffee containing the DRUG caffeine that is served in copious amounts at nearly every church? What about the antidepressant and anti-anxiety regime many christians are on? These are DRUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Pat Robertson is a visionary in his group. In 40 years Christians will view pot the same as caffeine and as I said, Pat will be looked back upon as ahead of his time. This has been common knowledge for over 40 years now, although. Caffeine is LETHAL, pot is NOT. God does not judge you and condemn you for using a PLANT HE CHOSE TO PUT ON THE EARTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And Jesus drank wine you blithering fools!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Judge not, lest ye be judged. Take another sip of your coffee and go pop a paxil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 15, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Tonya

      Ok you just need to calm down because even though Pat Robertson might have said that doesn't matter. Pat Robertson is not God. Ok so just because he supposedly said it was ok, which he was probably misquoted, it doesn't mean God says it's ok. ok.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • J.W

      How do we know if God thinks marijuana is ok?

      March 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  5. @youignantdotcom

    "just sayin

    Atheist can't dispute Truth but do love to steal from someone else."

    you cant dispute the truth of something when there is no factual evidence to back up such claims. Just Sayin....#youignant

    March 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      just sayin' thinks HIS truth is capitalized.

      March 12, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  6. @youignantdotcom

    "Elizabeth Thompson

    All drugs, esp this kind, Marajuana, is a gateway to other more dangerous and hard drugs. It dulls the mind and also kills brain cells. The scientific proof is in...it makes you stupid. Is that what you want? A dull mind and a slow tongue at a time in history when you need ALL your senses sharp so you can just survive? It's your life....you have a free will. This is about as stupid and ungodly as it gets. Pat Robertson has slipped and is falling falling falling ......I hope he gets up before it's too everlasting late."

    None of what you said has been proven true...kinda like your silly religion. #youIGNANT

    March 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      "It dulls the mind and also kills brain cells."

      and what is your excuse? your bible jammed so far up there that it cut off blood flow to the brain?

      March 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • check your sources

      Bible-belting m*r*n!

      March 13, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Mattimus

      In 1970, marijuana was placed on Schedule 1 of the Drug Enforcement Administration's controlled-substances list, largely because scientists feared that, like opiates, it had an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. But the discovery of THC receptor sites in the brain refutes that thinking, and may force both scientists and the DEA to re-evaluate their positions.

      The next century will view the 1988 discovery of the THC receptor site in the brain as the pivotal event which led to the legalization of marijuana.

      From http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/hemp/BRAIN.HTM

      I believe they are called Cannabinoid Receptors.

      You can also look up Genesis 1:29 if you like. "God said I give you every herb bearing seed..."

      Hope this helps, thanks for your time.
      : )

      March 16, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Mattimus

      I was educated about the study on cannabis killing brain cells. What I found was that researchers had a monkey breath through a mask the equivalent of 20 joints with zero oxygen. If your brain does not receive oxygen your brain cells will die.

      Who Knew?

      March 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  7. b4bigbang

    what's going on?

    March 12, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • b4bigbang

      There's a war against natural remedies being waged by big-pharma, but the drug war ship is slowly sinking.....

      March 12, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  8. Pipe-Dreamer

    I am but an individualist first while my social acquaintences evolve around that which I like t do in singulariity or in a communal setting as is everyone's sociologic acquaintence-ships . Federal Singularism here within the framed works of the USA's policies are frought with laws meant to degrade and belittle "Outside the Box" Socialisms.

    If one is attuned to the anti-political of the days' themes, you are labelled and coined a social outcast. with no rights to be availed your stance. This is why there is an under the table way and means to acquire things considered as beng illegal and against the "Federally perceived" public good. Live in the Freeddom no matter its' cost!

    March 11, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Da King

      WHAT? I DON'T WANT ANY OF WHAT YOU ARE SMOKING.

      ANYWAY, GOD WANT US TO BE OF SOBER MIND SO WE CAN PRAY.

      March 12, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Stan beck

      @Da King...so I cannot pray when I am drunk, to ask God for safety and to make smart decisions? maybe it(chronic dank smelling tasting smoking vaping edible mouth spray) increases us as people, otherwise why would the brain have THC receptors that will fit perfectly together when the molecule is introduced into the system although the brain does not produce a similar molecule to start with? IDK but God made everything in this universe through his divine power so he made weed, Everything God makes is good, no matter how faulty...let me paraphrase the word incarnate "If i must have one commandment to follow I pick none of the lather, but rather the new covenant of God shall only have one THOUGH SHALL LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS THY LOVES ONE SELF, and that shall be the greatest commandment of all"

      March 17, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  9. Pipe-Dreamer

    Today's Sociologic Federalism is against the individualists who are sociologically different and not mainstreamed thinkers of sociological federalisms' clawings. Being but an individual one does not need to be sociioloically endorsed and/or accepted by federal patriarchies and/0r matriarcies that hinder one's self from exploring the depths of drug induced moments of iindividualized pleasure. The Federalists of the Anti-Drug escapades here in the USA are tainted with the slush of noney coming in to their coffings via tainted avenues of cartel-like aveues opposing the legalism of each and every manner of drug that brings the base individual a sense of euphoria outside the boundaries of self-will.

    March 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • kooolguy

      thank you! its always nice to know im not the only one out there that thinks this way

      March 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Tonya

      You use big words with no meaning. Absolutely no meaning at all.

      March 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Pascal

      Tonya, "big words with no meaning"? It was perfectly coherent to me...maybe you're just one of those mouth breathers that needs all her words to be <5 letters...

      March 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • Pascal

      "Well, 'aight, check this out, dawg. First of all, you throwin' too many big words at me, and because I don't understand them, I'm gonna take 'em as disrespect."

      March 19, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  10. Pipe-Dreamer

    Prayer cannot change the politics of the USA's federal drug wars. Only via the people who stand up and gather together to quell the philanderings of wishy washy simplistics invested by and as vacuum cleaner evangelists who stand around as blinding eyes toward the socioloical freedoms of utilizing chemically endorsed awakenings that entails and brings to users

    March 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • check your sources

      Prayer can't change anything, because it doesn't work.

      March 13, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  11. PAUL

    All drugs alter your mind from GOD . I thank the great I AM that in the past many so call hippies
    were delivered from the bondage of drugs.Pat doesn't know what he is talking ABOUT THIS MATTER.
    He has said himself. WAKE UP CHURCH!! DRUGS IS A DIFFERENT FORM OF SORCERY

    March 11, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • sam stone

      in some cultures, they CONNECT you to god. how is your view more right than theirs?

      March 11, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • sam stone

      gee, paul, it seems as if you are the one who does not know what you are talking about. what experience do you have that we should take your word on it?

      March 11, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • sam stone

      do you really want to make the argument that it is sorcery (protected under the first amendment)?

      come on, paul, try to come up with a rational explanation instead of the chicken little impression you got going. i will go to the man cave and smoke another joint (after all, it IS the sabbath) and perhaps you wil make sense. but, i am not counting on it.

      March 11, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • sam stone

      and you calling them "hippies" shows that you are older than dirt. this change (that IS coming) is a generational thing, and i suspect it is one that is far separate from yours. so, stick with the drug you like (the I AM guy) and let others choose their own. capice?

      March 11, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • sam stone

      from the bondage of drugs to the bondage of jeebus.

      March 11, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • sam stone

      well, boy, you got an answer?

      March 11, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Da King

      YEA, PAUL'S RIGHT AND I THINK SAM STONE SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN REHAB A FEW MORE WEEKS.

      March 12, 2012 at 12:27 am |
    • sam stone

      wow, da king, putting inanity in caps sure does make it more valid

      March 12, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • check your sources

      Drugs ARE a different form...not drugs IS a different form, du*ba*s.

      March 13, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • noel

      So Paul another word if you do drugs God ignores you? I'm not sure what bible you are reading. Did the killing of many Israelites block the apostle Paul from God?

      March 15, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • noel

      So Paul in other word if you do drugs God ignores you? I'm not sure what bible you are reading. Did the killing of many Israelites block the apostle Paul from God?

      March 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Dave K

      Maybe he is right. Get rid of that wine behind the altar!

      March 16, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Pascal

      So, Paul, we should outlaw Chocolate and Coffee since the caffeine "alters your mind", as you say? What about running? Runners get high from running. And contact sports? What about Rastafari? They use weed to connect with their deity, are they wrong and you're right? I guess you "know", right? I'm sure God speaks directly to you, moreso than to those heathens at least, right? I'm sure you never drink Alcohol, or take benadryl, or aspirin, right? You're a joke and your religious beliefs are infringing on my freedom. STOP BEING ANTI-AMERICAN!

      March 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  12. b4bigbang

    Hey, i tried to post some ques re pot and other drugs but it didnt post.
    Ill try again.
    Anyone know what will happen to me if i smoke pot? will i see things? what happens? will it make me more se xually potent? Will it make me more creative?
    What about LSD or other hallucinogens? Same questions as for pot, but those substances instead.
    Any of u out there know?

    March 11, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • sam stone

      pot is a euphoriant. from what i have seen, and experienced, people feel friendlier on it. as far as "lsd and other halluncinogens", it depends on many factors. some love them, some hate them

      March 11, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Pascal

      Google has plenty of answers for you. Do your own research, don't take other people's word for it.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  13. b4bigbang

    test

    March 11, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  14. Piipe-Dreamer

    Most of this days' "Illegal" Drugs became illegal when? 1920's 1930's? There seemed (at the tiime) to be a political scandal tooled with the days' coverage in the news orientated fulcrum whereby the masses were held grayishly accountable via civil bootlegging andor censored deceivings which led the sheepish and goatable toward launderings of percentaged plausabilities and not the normalcies regarding the social structurings surrounding socialized drug usages. The drug usages regarding marijuana should never have become an illegality.

    March 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  15. Nii

    The principaal logic behind legalising says prices will drop n wipe out supppliers. This does not take into consideration that suppliers can form cartels or indeed are cartels. There are better ways to deal with drugs than making it available to all. They are dangerous drugs!

    March 10, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      Nii: People will be able to grow it on their own. This severely limites the impact of "cartels"

      March 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      They're less dangerous the the 'cure' which is prison, genius....

      March 11, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • sam stone

      Nii: In terms of relative danger, point out a less toxic, less addictive recreational drug. We will be waiting for your insightful response

      March 11, 2012 at 5:50 am |
    • Nii

      I have friends n relatives who were destroyed by marijuana right b4 my eyes. Forgive me if I do not sympathise with your cause but even aspirin is a controlled substance for good reason.

      March 11, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • sam stone

      i got a cousin who was destroyed because of obesity. i do not seek to prohibit ice cream. pardon me, but i do not have much sympathy for your cause

      March 11, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      Nii: You have not pointed out a less toxic, less addictive recreational drug than marijuana. Secondly, the term "controlled subtance" is a misnomer. Prohibition means NO CONTROL

      March 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  16. JohnR

    Pat Robertson is right on this one!

    March 10, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • PAUL

      Pat is right as he was about new missle in Cuba. JESUS was GOD incarnated so little people liike us
      could comprehen GOD.JESUS said, if you have seen me you have seen the father.

      March 14, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Dave K

      When they attempt to save us from something that has NEVER killed by overdose by killing people something is really wrong. It is undoubtedly the Christian thing to do. I am glad that Pat Robertson took the time to look carefully at this issue and had the courage to admit that his prior views were wrong. Perhaps there are a few fundamentalist Christians that really care about people.

      March 16, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  17. J Mann

    Hero of the hippie culture? Dude, you can count the number of actual hippies in this country on a couple of hands. Some hero. It isn't just a few so-called hippies that smoke pot, it is a wide swath of society, from wall street to main street. It is also used by cancer patients and other sick folks to ease their symptoms. I don't smoke it, and wonder if legalizing it will be the right thing to do – I am sure the tax money will help, though, and putting Mexican mafias out of the pot trade would be good as well.

    March 10, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • sam stone

      i fail to see the significant downside to legalization.

      March 10, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  18. DreamWeaver

    I dont smoke weed, but it should be legalized. Our prisons are overflowing and our taxes are outrageous. Please legalize it and tax the hell out of it. And Im an agnostic-but by all means, please provide proof that atheism is not healthy. You are a nut job. Even Christ said, Let those who are holy, be holy; let those who are unholy, be unholy...Dont you even read your own bible?

    March 10, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • b4bigbang

      DreamWeaver, i dont think the guy's alias is trying to state that atheism is physically or even mentally unhealthy (although i'd guess he believes it's *spiritually* unhealthy).
      Rather, he's taking artistic license using an old '60s wall poster that said "War is not healthy for children and other living things".
      A '60s classic – but alas, the young becomes old and fades away so quickly........

      March 11, 2012 at 12:40 am |
  19. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    As we the people, i.e. the federal government, have decided how things are to be done when it comes to regulating drugs:

    "Marijuana-based drug Sativex may get FDA approval ?

    Sunday, January 22, 2012

    SAN FRANCISCO – A quarter-century after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first prescription drugs based on the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, additional medicines derived from or inspired by the cannabis plant itself could soon be making their way to pharmacy shelves, according to drug companies, small biotech firms and university scientists."

    A British company, GW Pharma, is in advanced clinical trials for the world's first pharmaceutical developed from raw marijuana instead of synthetic equivalents- a mouth spray it hopes to market in the U.S. as a treatment for cancer pain. And it hopes to see FDA approval by the end of 2013.

    March 10, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things !

    March 10, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Observer

      I agree, so pray this country has a little common sense and legalizes.

      March 10, 2012 at 11:54 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 12, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • check your sources

      No, no it sure doesn't.You Christians claim your god to be omniscient and omnipotent, and if this is true, "GOD" has already created a set path and CANNOT change his mind ( see the definitions of both omnipotent and omniscient); therefore, prayer is one giant waste of TIME! You keep on praying and the scientists will continue working on ACTUAL solutions to ACTUAL problems.

      March 13, 2012 at 10:11 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.