VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment on Friday, lending his voice to a debate which is raging from the U.S. to Uruguay and beyond.
Francis told delegates to a drug-enforcement conference in Rome that even limited attempts to legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects."
Likewise, providing addicts with drugs doesn't solve the problem and is "rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon," he said.
"Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!"
Francis has frequently railed against the "evil" of drug addiction and has met with addicts on several occasions. When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he similarly devoted much of his pastoral care to addicts.
Just last month, Uruguay — next door to Francis' native Argentina — approved selling marijuana cigarettes in pharmacies. Recreational marijuana is now legal in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, and Oregon may put the matter to a vote later this year.
Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but possession of small amounts is not prosecuted, and it is sold openly in "coffee shops."