Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pope's view on legalizing drugs: Just say no

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Published: Fri, June 20 9:13 a.m. MDT

 Pope Francis exchange gifts with the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing, during a private audience in the pontiff's private library at the Vatican, Friday, June 20, 2014.

Pope Francis exchange gifts with the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra' Matthew Festing, during a private audience in the pontiff's private library at the Vatican, Friday, June 20, 2014.

(Claudio Peri, Pool, Associated Press)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment as he lent his voice Friday 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 legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects."

Likewise, Francis said, providing addicts with drugs offered only "a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon."

"Let me state this in the clearest terms possible," he said. "The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!"

Francis has described drug addiction as evil and met addicts on several occasions. When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he devoted much of his pastoral care to addicts.

Last month Argentina's neighbor Uruguay cleared the way for legal sales of marijuana cigarettes in pharmacies. Recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, while Oregon may vote on the issue this year.

With those successes, the marijuana legalization movement is gaining traction from the Americas to Europe and North Africa, where officials are eager to pursue policies that focus on promoting public health rather than battling drug traffickers.

But Francis emphasized Friday that the problems underlying drug use must be addressed, including social inequality and lack of opportunities for the young.

To reject illegal drugs, he said, "one has to say 'yes' to life, 'yes' to love, 'yes' to others, 'yes' to education, 'yes' to greater job opportunities. If we say 'yes' to all these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction."

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1. ordinaryfolks
seattle, WA,
June 20, 2014

Wonder if the man is against alcohol. Seems to me alcohol is a lot more dangerous than marijuana.

2. Michael Hunt
Murray, UT,
June 20, 2014

For being God's representative on earth the Pope seems quite reactionary. If a substance is legalized, the option to say no still exists. Moreover, if a person is set on consuming a particular drug, it's illegality is hardly an obstacle. By taking this stance, the Pope is showing how out of touch he really is with the common person with whom he is trying to ultimately connect.

3. gmlewis
Houston, TX,
June 20, 2014

@Michael Hunt: Actually, the option to say No exists for nearly all illegal activities. If people were really capable of governing themselves, law enforcement would not be necessary.

I really liked the Pope's statement "... say Yes to life...". This is a very positive reaction to the issue.

4. Uncle Rico
Sandy, UT,
June 20, 2014

I'm not a Catholic, but glad the Holy Father is taking a stand.

5. slcdenizen
Murray, UT,
June 20, 2014

@gmlewis

What's the difference between a person who says yes and a person who says no? Empowered individuals possess a greater capability to say no to negative behavior and if power brokers like the Pope were to spend their vast resources working to empower people rather than set up arbitrary and often counterproductive constraints, we would be much better off. I guess that's the point of religion though, keep people behaving like sheep so there's a demand for shepherds.