Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson says he has become a "hero of the hippie culture" by calling for marijuana to be legalized.
"I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol," Robertson told The New York Times on Wednesday. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”
Late last year, the televangelist seemed to endorse deregulation, but a spokesman for the Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) told Raw Story that he "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,” CBN spokesman Chris Roslan wrote.
But the founder of the Christian Coalition hasn't changed his political ideology. Earlier this week, he blamed "liberals" for the current failed drug war.
"Here's the thing. We have now over 3,000 -- the number must be much higher than that -- but over 3,000 federal crimes," he explained. "And every time the liberals pass a bill -- I don't care what it involves -- they put criminal sanctions on it. They don't feel that there's any way that people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail."
"I became sort of a hero of the hippie culture, I guess, when I said I think we ought to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. I just think it's shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they have a possession of a very small amount of controlled substance. I mean, the whole thing is crazy."
Robertson added: "We've said, 'We're conservatives. We're tough on crime.' That's baloney. It's costing us billions and billions of dollars. Now, think of California. California is spending more money on prisons than it spends on schools. I mean, there's something wrong about that equation, you know? There's something wrong. I think we need to scrub the federal code and the state codes and take away these criminal penalties."
"Putting people in jail at a huge expense to the population is insanity."
Watch this video from CBN's 700 Club, broadcast March 6, 2012.