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Pat Robertson Talks Marijuana Legalization, Backs Away

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #665)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy


A day after blowing the collective mind of the drug policy blogosphere by saying weed ought to be legalized, TV evangelist Pat Robertson was having second thoughts. The "700 Club" host and one-time presidential candidate told the New York Times the next day that he did not intend to suggest support for marijuana legalization, but only to question the severity of the punishments meted out to those who use or possess small amounts of the herb.

In a "700 Club" broadcast discussing the new conservative criminal justice reform group Right on Crime, Robertson launched into a heartfelt, if factually challenged, diatribe about the injustice of the country's marijuana laws.

"We're locking up people that take a couple puffs of marijuana and the next thing you know they've got 10 years," Robertson said. "They've got mandatory sentences; the judges throw up their hands and say there is nothing they can do. We've got to take a look at what we're considering crimes, and that's one of them. "I'm not exactly for the use of drugs -- don't get me wrong -- but I just believe that criminalizing marijuana, criminalizing the possession of  of a few ounces of pot, that kind of thing is just costing us a fortune and ruining young people. Young people going to prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals, and that's not a good thing," said the culturally conservative preacher.

Pat Robertson (image via Wikimedia)
In reality, nobody is serving mandatory minimum 10-year prison sentences for simple marijuana possession. But still, the consequences of even a small-time pot possession arrest can be serious and life-long.

Wednesday, after the Internet hubbub over his "700 Club" remarks, a spokesman for Robertson emailed media outlets (including the Speakeasy blog) to clarify. He wasn't really calling for marijuana decriminalization, the spokesman said.

"Dr. Robertson did not call for the decriminalization of marijuana," the email explained. "He was advocating that our government revisit the severity of the existing laws because mandatory drug sentences do harm to many young people who go to prison and come out as hardened criminals. He was also pointing out that these mandatory sentences needlessly cost our government millions of dollars when there are better approaches available. Dr. Robertson’s comments followed a CBN News story about a group of conservatives who have proven that faith-based rehabilitation for criminals has resulted in lower repeat offenders and saved the government millions of dollars. Dr. Robertson unequivocally stated that he is against the use of illegal drugs."

Supporting pot legalization is still a bridge too far for the man who once famously blamed legal abortion for Hurricane Katrina, but at least he's coming out for the reform of mandatory minimum drug sentences. That's as far as Right On Crime goes too, at least on its web page. In its issue pages on prisons and substance abuse, it calls for considering repeal of mandatory minimums and increased use of drug courts.

(Watch the CBN video footage here.)

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Lightforce (not verified)

This is what happens when conservatives speak their mind. They are chastised, marginalized and called ungodly. The religious and the right need to acknowledge that reefer madness is the cause for many of society's woes.

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 10:43am Permalink
Anonymous4:20 (not verified)

I am a Christian and I support full legalization.  God made this plant for us to use. We shouldn't lock up humans in cages for using God's Gift!

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 1:11pm Permalink
PabloKoh (not verified)

I am a conservative Christian and I support full marijuana legalization because prohibition and decriminalization support black markets, Mexican cartels and local street thugs.  End the violence by legalizing and regulating cannabis.

Tue, 01/04/2011 - 1:30pm Permalink
Conservative C… (not verified)

Jesus said, Whatsoeveryewouldthat men should do to you, doye even so to them. (Matthew 7:12).  

I know I would not want my child thrown in jail with the sexual predators, or my aging parents to have their house confiscated and sold by the police, over a little marijuana. (And even in California, and even under “decriminalization,” you can still lose your home, your freedom, and your kids if you grow even ONE marijuana plant.)

We can change the world when we REGISTER and vote. 

Wed, 01/05/2011 - 10:51am Permalink
Bongstar420 (not verified)

It wouldn't matter what idiots like this think if there wasn't so many of them......Really, you think that religious (beliefs independent of fact dictated by an authority figure) groups have a valid say on what policy ought to be outside of their own religions?


I just don't see how Pat Robertson, or any other religious figure, has a valid position outside his particular sect of Christianity. Pat's word is no more valid then Osama's or any other retarded religious leader's. Literally, these people have nothing outside of some old book they have been fed. Let's study reality outside these books of authority and see how much observations reproduce the texts from direct, impartial experimentation.


Of course its ok if our leaders in faith say so. Just ask my faithful father who believes that it is ok for yahweh to order the slaughter of competing tribes by his obedient followers but not for alah or zeus. Additionally, the only way to be moral is to blindly obey his master and disobey his competing masters.


Here is a little discussed fact about christian's and what law means to them. They will say that u must obey the law, but they will not say that they are referring to christian law. Additionally, they will speak of Justice and Freedom without mention that by "Justice" and "Freedom" they mean "Freedom for Just Us." So, if christian law is in agreement with state law, then it doesnt matter who you are. You deserve punishment. But of course, if the law disagrees with christian law, then you are morally obligated to break state law and be a martyr if caught as if it is honorable to die and suffer for an objectively weakly based belief.

When some holier then thou religious nut lectures you about following the law, ask what they will do if their belief and practice is illegal. Will they break the law, hold the belief and practice it or not? I'm willing the bet they will consider it ok to break the law irregardless of the amount of factual evidence against their positions.

By the way, the only reasonable "diety" out there is Prometheus.

Zeus punishes Prometheus for giving people knowledge of science. Hmmmm, what other religion is knowledge considered wrong? I seem to recall a story where people are punished forever for the indiscretion of 2 peoples desire for knowledge. Yes, that is reasonable. Punish a person's child because their parent found out about your evil plan.

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 3:21pm Permalink
don laface (not verified)

All he ever meant by what he said was that the penalties for those involved w/ marijuanna are unjust...too high!...etc.....He's right!..they are,.now if his followers or ''sheep'' agree w/ him..then that's another feather in our coolective caps!!...could be worse...the Vaticans against all forms of drugs...however helping the Nazi during ww2 or protecting their pedifiles is ok...that's just a little piece of why I'm an athiest..and lovin' it!!

    This country needs desperately to stop nationbuilding,..and all its stupid unjustified wars like the one right here at home...we need to stop the greed and educate our people....! we're circling the drain!

   For what it's worth..kuudoz to Pat for saying something possitive...instead of that usual evangelest crap!....don

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 4:15pm Permalink
dirty weasel (not verified)

Pretty sad state of affairs we have in this country when a Christian, conservative right wing republican preacher sounds a LOT more progressive on the issue of marijuana when compared to our "so-called" liberal progressive Democratic president.

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 12:20pm Permalink
King Pothead (not verified)

Pat has been coming by my house occasionally  for about 8 years to toke up.  I've even sold him an eighth out of my own stash on a handful of occasions.  Still, it's good to see the man come out of the closet.

Sat, 01/08/2011 - 12:15pm Permalink
Green Thunder (not verified)

Hail to tha King!

You know it's true, he's down thru and thru.

He wouldn't shut up about that new "Chuck Norris" Black and Blue Dream ish that some of his altar boys been bring over for private prayer...til he blazed a little 'o that Van Buren. Sat him rite down!

Tue, 01/11/2011 - 2:48am Permalink
Andrew87 (not verified)

I want to say that not all conservatives and Christians are against drug legalization.  A lot of them are. I consider myself a very conservative person politically, I'm a catholic, and fall to the right on almost every issue. However, when it comes to drug legalization, I am for legalizing drugs 100%.  Drug prohibition kills thousands of people, because we create an underground black market where people are shot at over a dime bag.  The statistics that these nut job prohibitionists throw out there about how people are going to use drugs if they are legalized are complete BS.  The only people who actually become addicts are people who have emotional traumas and deep underlying issues that they numb with a substance.  That is why most people who drink alcohol don't get addicted, because they see no point to.  Addiction is a result of coping with emotions and life, and rational people will not get addicted to drugs if they are legalized.

Furthermore, this is a nonpartisan issue.  Some of the most notorious conservatives,  William F. Buckley, Ron Paul, Thomas Sowell, and Tom Tancredo, all support outright legalization.  I am sick and tired of people saying that individuals do not have the right to put things into their body, when it is perfectly legal to go out and swallow paint thinner or drink until you get alcohol poisoning.   Drug prohibition began because of racism and ignorance, and it has led us to today where pot is easier to get than cigarettes and booze.  15 year old kids in the ghetto are shot over a bag of pot.  Mexico is becoming a war zone because the cartels don't want to give up what makes up 95% of their business, and innocent people are getting their heads chopped off.  Prohibition creates inflated drug prices that cause addicts to be homeless and commits crimes to avoid painful withdrawals.  News flash for all you prohibitionists:  If we legalized drugs, gangs in the inner cities would die off by 75%.  Homelessness, property crimes, and theft would drop drastically, as it did in countries that have dipped their hand in semi-legalization of certain drugs (Switzerland).  We could free up prisons for hardened violent criminals and the other sickos.  Most importantly, we could stop jailing people and ruining lives for what is a medical and psychological problem no different than alcoholism.  As a hardcore conservative,  I am in this fight to legalize drugs.  God bless all of you in this fight with me.

Fri, 01/28/2011 - 5:57am Permalink

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