Have you ever watched The 700 Club? I mean, really watched The 700 Club, man? Because the show’s longtime host, Pat Robertson, is one of the newest and most unexpected advocates of marijuana legalization.
No, the televangelist and fixture of the Conservative Right isn’t smoking anything – nor has he ever (or so he claims). Robertson believes it’s time that America begins treating pot “the way we treat beverage alcohol,” noting the high social and economic costs of drug prohibition.
Robertson isn’t the first conservative to come out against America’s harsh drug laws (and I’m not even talking about Ron Paul). None other than noted Bob Marley enthusiast and blacklight poster collector William F. Buckley, Jr. advocated marijuana legalization in 2004; the publication he founded, The National Review, has grappled with the issue over the past decades as well.
Despite the advocacy of a handful of conservative stalwarts, it’s not difficult to understand why conservatives in general have been reluctant to embrace cannabis culture. Marijuana has been a leftist touchstone since at least the hazy days of the Summer of Love; after all, weed was meant for the Willy Nelsons of the world, not those Brooks Brothers-wearing Republican squares.
The association between reefer and the left is so strong that it has become a subject self-deprecating humor. Brian Griffin – the smug, Prius-driving, NPR-listening dog in the left-leaning animated television series Family Guy – is shown lighting up with some frequency. But the fact that marijuana has become as emblematic to the left as Lee Greenwood is to the right shouldn’t slant the debate over legalization. Robertson’s assertions deserve serious discussion.
If nothing else, opponents of marijuana legalization ought to be elated about Robertson’s recent statements. There’s no better way to make America’s youth just say no to toking up than making the aging televangelist the poster boy of the pro-pot movement.