Pope Francis condemned the legalisation of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment as he lent his voice yesterday to a debate that is raging from the United States to Uruguay.
Francis told delegates attending a Rome drug enforcement conference that even limited steps to legalise recreational drugs “are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects”.
“Let me state this in the clearest terms possible,” he said. “The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!”
“Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise. To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem,” he added.
Francis has years of personal experience ministering to addicts in the drug-laden slums of the Argentine capital, and he frequently has railed against drug abuse and the drug traffickers who fuel the market.
But his comments yesterday marked his strongest and clearest yet as Pope directed at the movement to legalise recreational pot, which has been gaining ground in recent years, particularly in the US and South America.
Recreational use of marijuana has been legalised in the US states of Colorado and Washington, and Oregon may vote on the issue this year.
In Francis’s own homeland of Argentina, personal possession of controlled substances has been decriminalised. Next door in Brazil, authorities don’t punish personal drug use, although trafficking and transporting controlled substances is a crime.
In December, neighbouring Uruguay became the first nation to approve marijuana legalisation and regulation altogether.
Oddly enough, Argentina’s drug czar, who believes Argentina deserves a debate about whether to follow Uruguay’s lead, is a Roman Catholic priest.