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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

    I haven't smoked weed for about 30 years now-it just makes me silly and think mediocre things are wonderful-but I am all in favor of decriminalization. I know!-let's switch marijuana and tobacco! Tax heck out of weed, but jail or execute anyone involved in the production or sale of tobacco. 1200 people die every day from their tobacco addiction, and you know that costs the whole society a hell of a lot before it finally kills the poor user.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • marilynn

      more people die from cigarettes in one year than all the drugs and car accidents combined..

      March 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  2. QS

    I'm pretty sure I read somewhere in the bible that one of the first warning signs that the rapture is near would be that a typically self-righteous and somewhat clueless religious leader would start actually making sense!

    March 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  3. Ray

    I've forgotten what I was going to say.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  4. George W. Bush relapses and buries his face in a mountain of blow

    I kind of figured Robertson for a meth guy, based on this previous statements.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  5. Fishface Ackbar

    "ITS A TRAP!"

    March 8, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  6. markiejoe

    Why does Pat Robertson wait until right before the Mayan Apocalypse to do this?

    March 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  7. SaveRMiddle

    Pat has truly jumped ship! He recently stated it's acceptable for Christians to divorce a wife who has Alzheimers. Turns out his did and he'd made a new female friend. These are amazing times.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Dex

      No harm in bailing on someone who doesn't know who you are, I guess. Hey, wait a minute, I see a PATtern here; it seems Pat's values have been changing a lot, lately. Do you suppose he actually is getting stoned?

      March 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  8. Fupped Duck

    Hey Pat..This BUDS FOR YOU!!!!
    The US needs to generate additional taxes. This is a perfect way to do it. It will not only generate revenue, it will generate jobs. It's too easy and logical for the stubborn old bags that preach abstinence. It has not worked for the last 40 years, try something different.
    P.S. I do think Pat is going senile.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Burbank

      I'll take two! It can give you the muchies, do they have budd lite?

      March 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      *does not change things

      March 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • TR6

      Are you claiming that you prayed for Pat to become sensable?

      March 8, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  10. George

    And about 100 other drugs that we waste billions on.............

    March 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  11. shamsky24

    Well, I guess even a simpering boob like Pat Robertson can't be wrong about _everything._

    March 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  12. grace

    Now that's what I'm talkin bout! Too bad Obama will never go for it...

    March 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  13. Jon Durham

    Yep. And soon as ol' Pat takes his first toke, he'll chill out, the 700 Club set will have patchouli incense smokin' up the place, and Pat will be all like "hey man... cool out on Iran.... everybody just check out some of this Canadian bud I scored..."

    March 8, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  14. Rhonda

    I think you would all be quite surprised at how many conservatives agree with him.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • RBSG

      What's amazing is the way some Christians like Robertson take certain parts of the bible literally, and dismiss other parts. Galatians 5:19 specifically speaks against drug use (of all kinds). Of course, I'm sure Robertson realizes that non-believers (including myself) are not bound any passages in the bible, but what is perplexing is why he would campaign against a secular society on the subject of allowing gays to marry, using passages interpreted literally, yet advocate for the legalization of marijuana. Oh wait, it's an economic issue, right? And money trumps everything, especially in the world of televangelism. The man is nothing but a con-artist, selling a drug of a different kind to addicts of a different kind.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  15. Iconoclast

    Wow, must be the solar flares. Pat Robertson is suddenly making sense. To all the haters, especially the guy who wants to kill everyone caught with drugs. People who want to get high on something are going to do it, illegal or not. That has been proven time and time again. Lots and lots of folks smoke pot and live normal productive lives. Why incarcerate them when they are not hurting anyone except (arguably) themselves? The only people legalization scares is the law enforcement and incarceration industries they will not have as many people to arrest and jail.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  16. Patriot Awesome

    Wow! Climate change must have caused hell to freeze over.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Jo Jo

      awesome. HAHA!

      March 8, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  17. jimbo

    Even a blind squirrel can find a nut. Congrats Pat for making sense for once.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  18. GG

    I want the new Bill Clinton Presisdential "No-Inhale" bong for Christmas Pat. I hear it's guaranteed to get you 80% higher. Just ask Barack Obama. Only $19.95 – but wait there's more! If you call now we'll send you a lifetime supply of double-bubble dank in a jar free!

    March 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  19. Dex

    Pat, are you gonna pass that thing or just bogart it?...Now, what were you saying about Hitler's Brain being kept alive in Paraguay?

    March 8, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  20. Rob

    I can't believe that I actually agree with him.

    March 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Confused me

      Me2 bro ...Me2

      March 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • GG

      Can I get a Amen!

      March 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Confused me

      Number 7 of 10 laws inscribed on the Georgia Guide Stone (American-Stonehenge) states: "Avoid petty laws and useless officials."
      Pat has now ascended

      March 8, 2012 at 4:29 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.