Pat Robertson, the controversial and outspoken evangelist and television talk show host said he would weaken marijuana laws and that "liberals" are the reason so many young Americans are incarcerated for possessing small amounts of the drug.
"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," said Robertson on his "700 Club" broadcast. "It's time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can't do it anymore."
Robertson made his comments last week, but it wasn't the first time he has raised the issue of reducing or eliminating the marijuana penalties. In December of 2010, Robertson cited the need get "smart" on crime.
"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," said Robertson at that time. "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 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," continued Robertson. "Young people go into prisons, they go in as youths and come out as hardened criminals. That's not a good thing."
The CBN founder squarely lays the blame for the growing number of hard-core criminals at the feet of liberals.
"What is it we're doing that is different?" he said. "What we're doing is turning a bunch of liberals loose writing laws – there's this punitive spirit, they always want to punish people. It's time for change! More and more prisons, more and more crime."
"It's just shocking, especially this business about drug offenses," lamented Robertson. "It's time we stop locking up people for possession of marijuana. We just can't do it anymore ... You don't lock 'em up for booze unless they kill somebody on the highway."
An executive officer at a health care company in Tennessee agrees with Robertson.
"I've seen a number of cancer patients benefit from a small amount of personal marijuana use," said the executive who asked not to be identified for professional reasons. "Many times their appetite improves and they require less morphine. But I also agree that too many young people are going into jails and it's not keeping them from learning how to commit more serious offenses when they get back on the streets."
The issue is also brought up on the campaign trail from time to time. Last year, Republican presidential hopeful and Texas Congressman Ron Paul co-sponsored a bill with Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) that would allow each state to address the issue.