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Pope Francis Criticizes Drug "Liberalization"

The Pope states that more liberal drug policy won't solve Latin America's problems.


Pope Francis met with recovering addicts in
Rio Photo via

By Victoria Kim


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While in Brazil this week for the Roman Catholic World Youth Day festival, Pope Francis condemned Latin American drug cartels for exploiting addicts, but argued that more liberal drug laws are not the solution. At the inauguration of a new drug treatment wing at the St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires visited recovering addicts and listened to their stories. He then made a speech in which he decried Latin America's trend toward "softer" drug policy. In recent years, leaders from Uruguay, Colombia, Bolivia, and Ecuador have voiced their support for drug law reform in an effort to curb crime and violence. But according to the pope—who has a history of demonstrating compassion towards drug addicts—drug law "liberalization" is not the answer: "A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America."

The Argentinean-born pontiff condemned the "scourge of drug trafficking" claiming it "favors violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death" perpetuated by drug cartels, whom he called "dealers of death" who exploit addicts for power and money. But he doesn't believe the answer lies in legalizing drugs or reducing penalties for those caught using or dealing. Instead, he proposed targeting the underlying causes. "It is necessary to tackle the problems which are at the root of drug abuse," he said, "promoting more justice, educating the youth with the values that live in society, standing by those who face hardship and giving them hope for the future."

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