Pope Francis Calls for Workshop to Address Global Drug Abuse

By Paul Gaita 06/09/16

Pope Francis has been diligent in addressing the drug war, addiction, and legalization throughout his papacy. 

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Pope Francis Calls for Workshop to Address Global Drug Abuse

Following the request of Pope Francis, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences will host a two-day workshop titled “Narcotics: Problems and Solutions of This Global Issue” that will take place at the Vatican from November 23-24, 2016. The event will bring together scholars from the Academy—which has promoted the study of mathematical, physical and natural sciences in relation to philosophical issues since 1936—with a host of professionals from the scientific, medical, legal and civil fields to address a variety of issues related to drug use as a means to determine “innovative socio-political solutions” to the global drug abuse problem.

A press release issued by the Academy stated “drugs are one of the scourges of our globalized world, despite the enormous resources employed all over the world to fight drug trafficking and production.” Attendees will examine drug production and distribution methods, with a particular focus on “drugs in cities, slums and the countryside” and how child exploitation helps to support crime networks involved in the drug trade. Scientific issues will also be explored, including “the potential medical uses of certain drugs for specific diseases and disorders.”

One of the key topics to be addressed at the workshop is the impact of legalization on global communities—an issue on which Pope Francis has offered varying opinions over the last few years. In 2014, he regarded marijuana legalization efforts as “not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.” But at a speech before the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit the following year, the Pope offered a more critical stance on the War on Drugs, which he regarded as “a war which is taken for granted and poorly fought ... A corruption which has penetrated to different levels of social, political, military, artistic and religious life, and, in many cases, has given rise to a parallel structure which threatens the credibility of our institutions.” 

More recently, the Pope made a surprise visit to a non-profit drug and alcohol rehab facility in Rome as part of his “Fridays of Mercy,” on which he performs charitable acts in person, once a month, throughout the Jubilee of Mercy, a holy year outside the normal cycle which began on December 8, 2015 and will conclude on November 20, 2016.

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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