Newest supporter of marijuana legalization: Pat Robertson?

A remarkable catch by lefty site Raw Story.

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

His co-host added that the success of religious-run dormitories for drug and alcohol cessation therapy present an “opportunity” for faith-based communities to lead the way on drug law reforms.

“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.”

The segment on marijuana comes at the beginning of the clip below; skip ahead to 3:00 or so for Robertson’s commentary. It’s offered in the context of promoting the site Right on Crime, which looks for alternatives to imprisonment for various offers in order to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Here’s their section on substance abuse calling for more “drug courts” to replace criminal courts in processing nonviolent offenders. Essentially, if you comply with the probation-like conditions imposed by the court to stay clean, hold down a job, etc, the offense would eventually be expunged from your record. No prison time and no stigma going forward when applying for jobs.

Says former Hot Air guestblogger See Dubya on Twitter of Robertson’s stance on weed, “That means it’s no longer cool, right?” Exit question: Does this create some political space for “true conservatives” to be more adventurous in opposing marijuana laws? Palin showed a little flair on that point a few months ago but it’s disappeared among the field since then (except, of course, for libertarian Gary Johnson). If she brings it back, it could spark interest among independents, and now that she has Robertson as cover on her right flank, the damage among social cons should be minimal.