Of the many roles Pat Robertson has assumed over his five-decade-long career as an evangelical leader — including presidential candidate and provocative voice of the right wing — his newest guise may perhaps surprise his followers the most: marijuana legalization advocate.
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in an interview 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.”
Mr. Robertson’s remarks echoed statements he made last week on “The 700 Club,” the signature program of his Christian Broadcasting Network, and other comments he made in 2010. While those earlier remarks were largely dismissed by his followers, Mr. Robertson has now apparently fully embraced the idea of legalizing marijuana, arguing that it is a way to bring down soaring rates of incarceration and reduce the social and financial costs…
“I love him, man, I really do,” said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of current and former law enforcement officials who oppose the drug war. “He’s singing my song.”
For his part, Mr. Robertson said that he “absolutely” supported the ballot measures, though he would not campaign for them. “I’m not a crusader,” he said…
“Pat Robertson still has an audience of millions of people, and they respect what he has to say,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which advocates for more liberal drug laws. “And he’s not backtracking. He’s doubling down…”
While Mr. Robertson said his earlier hints at support for legalization had led to him being “assailed by those who thought that it was terrible that I had forsaken the straight and narrow,” he added that he was not worried about criticism this time around.
“I just want to be on the right side,” he said. “And I think on this one, I’m on the right side.”
Cripes. I tend to be amazed when common sense about law, decriminalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana just like every other similar mood-altering substances – like beer and wine – sinks in through the ponderous filter paper that is biblical rote. But, I ain’t in any hurry to reject someone with the clout of Pat Robertson taking a stand on the side of ordinary Americans – and the angels.