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Pat Robertson wants to legalize marijuana?

Will wonders never cease? It has been a crazy week, what with Obama somehow talking the Republicans into going along with repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, ratifying the new START treaty, and dropping their filibuster to 9/11 first responder health benefits at the end of the lame duck session. But now arch-conservative founder of the Christian Coalition Pat Robertson has come out in favor of legalizing marijuana, or at least reducing the sentences.

It got to be a big deal in campaigns: “He’s tough on crime”, and “lock ’em up!”. That’s the way these guys ran and, uh, they got elected. But, that wasn’t the answer.

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. These judges just say, they throw up their hands and say nothing we can do with these mandatory sentences. We’ve got to take a look at what we’re considering crimes and that’s one of ’em.

I’m … 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 a few ounces of pot, that kinda thing it’s just, it’s costing us a fortune and it’s ruining young people. Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That’s not a good thing.

Well, duh!

UPDATE: An article in the Washington Post about Portugal, which decriminalized all recreational drugs with a controversial law 9 years ago, and how the new system is paying off.

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18 Comments

  1. ebdoug wrote:

    Again, either marijuana and cigarettes are legal or marijuana and cigarettes are illegal. Can’t have one without the other. When I worked OB in Alta Bates hospital in the 1960s, studies were being done on pregnant women who smoked marijuana. At that time the study showed no ill effects to the baby. I didn’t get to know the follow up for when the babies were in their forties as they are now.
    Yet enough studies have been done on cigarette smoking to know babies are a pound less born to smoking mothers, have innumerable health problems, brain damage from the carbon monoxide they are forced to take in while in utereo.
    I just don’t hear or read the dangerous side effects from marijuana that I do from the carcinogens added to cigarettes.
    Why is marijuana illegal and cigarettes legal?
    I think it is pure tobacco lobbying.

    Thursday, December 23, 2010 at 8:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Semalu wrote:

    Did you really just say “well duh”?…

    I think I am about to give a lecture because I think you are actually saying that you agree the casual small user of illegal drugs should not be punished for a few puffs?.. “You” in this case refers collectively to anyone who considers using illegal drug use as casual or as recreation. If you enjoy occasional drug use then you, along with that republican, obviously have no first hand experience of living at the other end of the supply chain. Otherwise, as a decent human being, you couldn’t possibly support its use.I will try to clarify this by using a comparable since what is obvious to me by the experience of it, seems less obvious to others who lack that experience.

    The sort of denial of personal culpability in any of the crimes committed to keep your personal illegal drug needs supplied is the same sort of denial as the Catholic church was culpable of for their lack of a constructive response towards the crimes being committed by their diddling priests. After all both of you are aware of the crimes occurring somewhere along the supply chain, yet both are well removed from the actual crime, well out of site. Each of you justify your actions through rationalization and neither of you were ever directly involved in, subjected to or have any other direct personal experience of the viciousness of these crimes. Both use denial of culpability to protect or satisfy a personal need or desire. Odd how both you and the Church both disregard existing laws using remarkably similar flawed rational. Both of you choose to take the law into your own hands when the existing laws prove too inconvenient for your selfish needs.

    The reality, as was discussed even on this website, is that the church did not have an adequate excuse for denying their culpability in the damage caused by the paedophiles among them. They knew of it and still turned away. Everyone else has condemned them for it. The same is true for the casual small user of drugs. As long as the supply lines to keep you in your casual puffing continues to result in the kind of violence we see in Mexico, see in Afghanistan or in any of the grower nations, then each of you are culpable for the crimes committed along the road to keep you supplied.

    If you can look into the eyes of the children, the families, who grow up living the violence and tyranny rampant of the grower nations, look in their eyes and tell them that you honestly believe that your casual use doesn’t hurt anyone…anyone…than you just go ahead and have that puff. Please look at yourself in the mirror while you enjoy it.I am sure you will see a Narco looking back at you and thanking you for it. After that, take a trip south of the border and ask the people who are experiencing this violence what they think of your culpability.

    You are culpable because you know of the violence…because you are very aware of it..because you still choose to use drugs illegally…and because you still find ways to rationalize your using it..you still turn away….

    Imagine being the one to tell that young choirboy that he has to continue putting up with the abuses because that is more convenient for your needs than abiding by the laws? Can you really convince him that you are the one being victimized since you only indulge occasionally? Yet that is what you do everytime you have a “few puffs” You advocate the continuation of abuse. Please don’t make the same mistake the church did, don’t turn away. No matter how benign you think your usage is, there is someone else who lives the reality…only they never get out of prison.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 12:01 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Whoa there! Are you really equating pedophilia with smoking marijuana? Seriously? Are you saying that priests that abuse children are part of some Catholic supply chain? What does it supply?

    I can easily imagine the same rant about people who “use” electronics like mobile phones. Because a necessary ingredient is tantalum (also called coltan) over which horrible battles are being fought in the Congo, along with with institutionalized rape and disfigurement. Should people who use computers and cell phones be thrown in jail because of this far more horrible supply chain?

    Are you accusing me of using illegal drugs? Just because I think marijuana should be legal does not mean that I have ever used it (in fact, I have not). I have also not ever smoked cigarettes, and I don’t drink alcohol, but they are legal and I want them to stay that way. When alcohol was illegal, the supply chain become as you describe. Legalizing it fixed that. The same thing will happen for marijuana.

    Also, I know people who grew their own marijuana and only smoked their own crop, until they were busted and spent years in jail, making their children effective orphans. There is no supply chain there. What about those people? Should they spend years in jail too?

    This is absolutely the craziest, weirdest analogy I’ve ever heard about drug use.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d ask you what drugs you are on.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 12:35 am | Permalink
  4. ebdoug wrote:

    I’m saying that growing marijuana in this country cuts off the supply from Mexico. I, myself, have never smoked either cigs or marijuana. I have taken a pain pill with kidney stones. I don’t drink alcohol. A pure prude.
    When I lived in Berkeley, I would sit in a circle with people and pass the joint and get a nice buzz on from the smoke.
    The allergist says I’m a victim of cigarette smoke growing up from a solid cigarette smoke house which led to the asthma which keeps me home, shopping on the Internet so I won’t go into an asthma attack. I did spend $3000 a year on meds until that awful Medicare D. You are now paying for my medications. I hit the donut hole yesterday.
    I don’t believe that marijuana has the additives that cigs have. And I really like the smell of each. Just wish it didn’t do a job on me.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 5:29 am | Permalink
  5. Semalu wrote:

    Iron Knee, I think you are missing the point. Please don’t confuse the messenger with the message being sent. You are smarter than that (and please reread my original post for my use of the term “you”). On the other hand if this outrage is a knee jerk reaction to a message that left you feeling a little uncomfortable? Then by all means be offended. Anything to make “you” reconsider your position on the harmlessness of it all. If it helps you to listen better, please use the term “we” or “all of us” instead of “you”.

    This message is not an argument for the legalization nor for the criminalization of the stuff. Nor is it an argument for or against any perceived health benefits or health risks associated with its use. I really don’t care about that one way or the other. I do care about about the ongoing collateral damage. I care about the people who continue to be victimized while the debate rages on (decades now). I care about the collective turning of a blind eye to the violence and murder for the benefit of those few “harmless” puffs (or snorts, lines, needles, whatever your vice of choice). There is nothing harmless about it and that is not something you can rationalize away. Plus 30,000 lives cannot be rationalized away.

    For the record…yes I consider anyone who is witness to and turns a blind eye to the goings on at the other end of the few puffs supply line is equally as guilty as the Church turning a blind eye to the ongoings of the priests. Especially as the casual users are in a direct position to do something about it by simply stopping the casual use while the debate rages on. It is an odd world we live in where we readily intervene if our neighbours wife is being beaten, are outraged if we suspect a child is being abused, even abuse of our pets generates a stronger sense of outrage than does all this senseless killing at the other end of the “few puffs” supply line. Personally, I call that the Spring Break Syndrome…where you park your better moral beliefs and values at the border in exchange for a little “harmless” vacation fun.

    If you like, I could start posting some links to a few of the stories that are a direct results of the demand for all this harmless stuff. I suspect that isn’t necessary though. Lord knows the stories from the other end of the supply line are making all the papers world wide.

    I do thank you for providing this forum for irony, because there is an irony going on with this issue, even if it is not of the humorous type. While I do apologize for straying from the humorous intent of your website, I do not apologize for the message being sent. I also hope that “you” will take the quiet time of these holidays to reflect a little on this message. Maybe a few more will start the New Year with a resolution to reconsider a “harmless” participation that keeps the violence at the other end of the supply chain alive.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink
  6. starluna wrote:

    Wow, Semalu. So, you believe that all laws are justified, moral, and should be followed regardless of their consequences? Really?

    That line of thinking would not allow for any change in the laws. It would have kept in place laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage and denying women the right to practice law or medicine. If we didn’t change our laws, we would still be allowing medical researchers to conduct unethical and cruel experiments on poor people. If we didn’t change our laws, we would still be sterilizing poor, and mostly black, women in the South.

    Laws exist because we make them and give them meaning. They have no authority other than that which we give them. And because they are made up, they can be un-made.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 9:29 am | Permalink
  7. starluna wrote:

    By the way, the collateral damage related to alcohol consumption is by far greater than almost any form of illicit drug use, and most certainly marijuana.

    If you were truly concerned about the ripple effects of psychotropic drugs, perhaps you should turn your attention to the legal prescription of Ritalin and other psychostimulants that are increasingly used to “manage” children’s behavior.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  8. patriotsgt wrote:

    What I never understood is why the Gov. still allows tobacco to be sold when there is proof that the products cause cancer or emphysema or some other blood or airway illness in the majority of users. It’s like the Gov is sentencing tobacco users to death. I know there is a smaller minority that never develops any negative side effects, but no-one knows who those people will be, until it’s too late.
    I am still undecided on legalizing pot.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  9. Semalu wrote:

    Looks like I struck a nerve among a few of you. Even with some of the issue blending going on (all valid issues in their own right), and despite the negative commentary more typical of Fox News then of this site, I still consider this a start. I hope you do give the casual drug use issue a little more thought, even if it has made some of you feel a tad uncomfortable. I will lay off now as it is, after all the holidays. Party responsibly.If anyone wants to continue this after the holidays I will be happy to oblige.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Permalink
  10. Falkelord wrote:

    Semalu, there’s a reason there is such a crime problem with such collateral damage: the laws that prevent the legal sale or usage of the product.

    The entire reason the Mexican Drug Trade is so deadly is because it is not entirely limited to marijuana, so it would be a very moot point to say that the reason the entire Mexican border is full of murder only because of that plant. It is, in fact, due to the large amounts of cocaine also leaving the southern americas, in addition to the marijuana. Secondly, take a look at what happened during prohibition. Why was organized crime so high? Because they had to have insurance to protect the large amounts of alcohol being shipped cross-country. It’s the exact same thing going on here: we have mexican (and non-mexican, mind you) cartels protecting their investments of drugs. The legalization of marijuana will make it at least a little less deadly, however there will always be violence over something that is illegal.

    There’s nothing we can do about it, especially because decriminalizing cocaine is foolhardy at best, but marijuana is both safe and helpful in over 20 studies that have been done, which I would provide proof for if I wasn’t heading out the door to work. But the point of this argument is that it is silly to equate the violence and collateral damage solely with marijuana when there are several other factors including but not limited to the laws of countries outside of our own or the products being shipped or the amounts of said products.

    These are things that have to be considered before one makes such wild assumptions that marijuana is the sole cause of these issues. Also, you’re welcome to the site, and we’re glad to have you here. The point of this site is healthy discussion, albeit some people more intense than others 😀

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  11. Iron Knee wrote:

    Portugal decriminalized all drugs nine years ago, including cocaine, meth, and even heroin. Time magazine says that this was a good thing: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1893946,00.html

    Drug use among teens has declined, HIV infections from sharing needles dropped, and people seeking treatment for drug addiction doubled. According to Glenn Greenwald “Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success. It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does.” Before decriminalization, Portugal had some of the highest levels of hard drug use in Europe, but after decriminalization Portugal now has the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in adults, a rate four times lower than in the US. More people in the US use cocaine than Portuguese use marijuana.

    The US has some of the toughest laws against drug use, but we have higher drug use. Drug prohibition has not worked.

    Plus, decriminalization saved the Portuguese government money on enforcement, and of course saved them the cost of incarcerating drug users.

    I think it is informative to note that during the recent vote to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in California, the biggest opponents of the measure were the liquor companies.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
  12. Sammy wrote:

    So if someone grows a small amount of pot in their basement entirely for personal use, and only when not about to operate an automobile or go to work, exactly where is the “collateral damage”? If the amount they grow exceeds some legal boundary and the DEA or some local law enforcement agency breaks down the doors and jails these users, I’m here to tell you, THAT’S where you’ll find the collateral damage.

    I don’t drink enough to get drunk, but every time I leave a gig or a night out with friends, my biggest fear is the drunk on the road who has just consumed legal alcohol. And I’ve never seen two stoners fight in a bar. I’ve seen drunks beat the shit out of each other for no reason.

    Friday, December 24, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  13. ebdoug wrote:

    Somethings should be illegal. Smoking in public anywhere and smoking around children or while pregnant. If the drug user, smoker or drinker wants to hurt him/herself, that is her/his choice. Driving drunk, smoking so other people get second hand, that is where the law needs to come in. If a person wants to own a gun, certainly. But to use that gun, smoke, or alcohol to harm someone else is not right.

    Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 8:19 am | Permalink
  14. patriotsgt wrote:

    Well IK I wouldn’t base policy off one nations results. What has Amsterdam done and how do they see it. Lets see more then one example, and I’d like to see opposing data (from a non-liberal source to round out the discussion. By the way isn’t Portugal on the verge of bankruptcy or needing a bailout?

    I could go along with home or farm grown personal use pot controlled and regulated by the gov, but not the hard ones. In my state if you get caught with less then 1oz of pot (as a first or second offense) you’ll never do any jail time. Going to jail for a joint is a myth in most places (there are exceptions). Doing any more then 2 yrs for a distributable amount of pot(1+oz) in my state is a rarity and there would have to be aggravating circumstances. Unfortunately, the same law makers don’t take a license away from a drunk driver even after 3 DWIs.

    Saturday, December 25, 2010 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  15. starluna wrote:

    PatriotSgt – I don’t know the details about Portugal’s financial situation, but I seriously doubt that it is related to their drug policies. I’m not quite sure what the connection between an out of control financial sector, really bad fiscal policies, and the lack of criminal penalties for cocaine possession would be. Unless you think that all of those people who were creating the mess we are in were doing it to buy coke.

    Unfortunately, going to jail for a joint is very much a sad reality in most places in the US. It’s more likely to happen in you are a poor person, a person of color, or an immigrant. What you’ve described is a state that has decriminalized possession. But most states have not, and federal laws still prohibit possession of any amount of any illicit substance for any reason.

    And you see this borne out in the prison statistics. According to the Bureau of Justice, approximately 20% of state prisoners and about 52% of federal prisoners are there because of drug convictions (see: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p08.pdf).

    By the way, this is completely out of sync with the fact that, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (part of the National Institutes of Health), the prevalence of illicit drug use in the USA among those 12 years and older is 14% (see: http://oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2K8NSDUH/tabs/Sect1peTabs1to46.htm#Tab1.1B).

    Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Permalink
  16. starluna wrote:

    Just to clarify, the prevalence in any given year of illicit drug use is 14%. Lifetime prevalence is significantly higher (~47%). What this shows is that many people experiment with or use illicit drugs at some point in their life.

    Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink
  17. russell wrote:

    Semalu,

    Your analogy is rather tortured (as noted).

    But if we allowed (and taxed) domestic marijuana cultivation, your argument completely crumbles.

    Sunday, December 26, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  18. patriotsgt wrote:

    Starluna – I through the comment about Portugal in there because one argument i’ve heard about legalizing drugs here is the tax revenue we’d get and the savings from eliminating enforcement and prison. It has not saved Portugal’s fiscal fate.
    My state is not decriminalized, but the penalty for a joint is catch and release with a misdemeanor. Our State prisons are too crowded to put everyone in there who smoked a joint. Only about 1/4 of drug cases get prosecuted federally here as well. The Assistant US Attorneys (AUSAs) I work with rarely prosecute marijuana and it would have to be alot, like 1000lbs alot (I work as an analyst for a federal counter-drug taskforce). Everything else is prosecuted at state level. Now they will procecute Cocaine at 2 Kg and up and Heroin at 1 kg and up, but users are all prosecuted at state levels. and they don’t do much time unless they are repeat offenders or want to be locked up for 3 months because it’s winter.
    You are correct about arrests and the color of skin, at least in my state. But one logical reason in my state is the only large city is 60% persons of color, so it makes sense that 60% of the prisoners will be the same.

    Monday, December 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink