Well … yes, quite clearly he did mean that. But these are the sorts of games social cons have to play when it comes to drug laws, it seems. Even Palin, for all her boldness in taking righteous yet politically unpopular positions, didn’t dare come all the way out in support of decriminalization; the farthest she was willing to go was to suggest we’d benefit from less enforcement. Sometimes I wonder if this is the conservative equivalent of Obama’s stance on gay marriage, with Robertson’s spokesman now advising us not to believe our own eyes and ears lest that cause political trouble for his boss. To refresh your memory of what he said in the clip I posted yesterday:

“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,” Robertson continued. “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.”

And now comes the day-after spin from CBN:

Dr. Robertson did not call for the decriminalization of marijuana. 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.

Says Jesse Walker at Reason, “Unless Robertson wants to claim that he’s for ‘costing us a fortune’ and ‘ruining young people,’ that sounds like a call for decriminalization to me.” Me too, and since Robertson’s a law school grad, I assume he grasps the distinction between decriminalizing a behavior and merely changing the punishment. If he was all about the sentencing, he could have made that plain. He didn’t.

Exit question: If state legislatures won’t decriminalize marijuana, can juries do it for them? Exit answer: Sometimes!