VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- Pat Robertson's on-air criticism of marijuana possession sentences does not mean the U.S. TV evangelist advocates legalizing pot, his TV network said.
Robertson, during a Dec. 17 episode of "The 700 Club" on the Christian Broadcasting Network, said criminalizing all marijuana possession is costly and ruins young lives.
"We're locking up people that take a couple of puffs of marijuana, and the next thing you know they've got 10 years," the former Southern Baptist minister said. "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 and that kind of thing, I mean, it's just, it's costing us a fortune and it's ruining young people."
The comments, noticed by bloggers this week, were quickly picked up by pro-marijuana groups, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Robertson's "voice is respected by hundreds of thousands or millions of people who might not otherwise think about this issue seriously," Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann told the newspaper. "His comments were a very important step forward."
Nadelmann's group supports legalizing and taxing marijuana.
A CBN spokesman told the Post Robertson was "unequivocally" against illegal drug use and did not support legalizing marijuana.