The marijuana community – and, by extension, the medical cannabis industry – is getting support from an unlikely source: Controversial Christian televangelist Pat Robertson.
In an interview this week with The New York Times, Robertson criticized the long-running and oft-criticized war on drugs, saying it “just hasn’t succeed.”
Given that backdrop, Robertson said he believes that marijuana in particular should be legal, adding that he supports initiatives in Colorado and Washington State to allow adults to possess and use small amounts of cannabis for whatever reasons they choose. Voters in those states will weigh in on the matter during the November elections.
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Robertson said.
The comments represent Robertson’s strongest statement yet on the need to reform marijuana laws. He previously voiced his support for the decriminalization of marijuana but had not publicly backed full legalization for adult use until now.
Marijuana advocates applauded his comments.
“What is most satisfying about this endorsement is that it is based in part on Pat Robertson’s acknowledgement that it is irrational to allow adults to use alcohol, but punish them if they use marijuana,” said Mason Tvert, executive director of SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation), which helped get the cannabis legalization measure in Colorado on the ballot. “No matter who the person is, it shouldn’t be surprising that someone is willing to say that marijuana prohibition should end. We believe that support for ending marijuana prohibition will continue to grow in all sectors of society as we talk about this issue. ”
Robertson’s call for marijuana legalization also provides is a shot in the arm for the medical marijuana community, though in an indirect way. It could help change the overall perception of cannabis in the minds of many Americans who share the same political and religious beliefs as Robertson. That, in turn, will help ease the stigma surrounding cannabis and medical marijuana, which over time will make it more acceptable in communities across the United States.
The support comes from an odd corner, considering most highly conservative religious leaders are adamant in their opposition to marijuana. Robertson has made a fair share of controversial comments about everything from race and homosexuality to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Alzheimer’s, making his views on marijuana all the more surprising. While a fair share of people dismiss him, he has a mountain of influence over a sizable chunk of the population, and his words could be enough to tip the balance toward both MMJ and general cannabis legalization in some states.