VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis on Friday (June 20) strongly condemned the legalization of recreational drugs, saying all drug use was “evil” and deserved no type of compromise.

Pope Francis on Friday (June 20) decried the use of recreational drugs and attempts at legalizing their use.

Pope Francis on Friday (June 20) decried the use of recreational drugs and attempts at legalizing their use.Creative Commons image by Catholic Church (England and Wales)

Francis told participants from a drug enforcement conference in Rome that attempts to legalize recreational drugs were “not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint,” but failed to produce “the desired effects.”

It is not the first time that the pope has spoken out against what he calls the “scourge of drug use”; he met crack cocaine addicts in Rio de Janeiro on his first official visit to Brazil last year.

But it was a particularly strong statement from the pontiff and is likely to add to the debate in the U.S. following the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington state in 2012.

Nearly two dozen U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use; bids to decriminalize marijuana for recreational use are pending in Maryland, California, Oregon, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, with other states considered likely to follow.

“Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: 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,” Francis said.

“To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem. Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called ‘recreational drugs’ are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.”

The pope said drug use was fed by a “deplorable” international commerce that put the lives of adolescents and young people in danger. “Faced with this reality, I can only manifest my grief and concern,” he said.

He said “substitute drugs” were a “veiled means” of surrendering, and said there should be no room for illicit drugs, alcohol abuse or other forms of addiction.



  1. Suzanne Schmidt

    AMEN! Finally, someone with common sense speaks out against marajuana. What will be the effect on unborn children whose mother smokes it? What happens to children who breathe the second-hand smoke? Once upon a time cigarettes and alcohol were considered harmless and look at the problems associated with just those two things. This is a slippery slope! Will we ever learn?

    • I love that how you couldn’t even spell marijuana there. What did the government do about the unborn children and the children who inhale the secondhand smoke they inhale from the cigarettes again? When were alcohol and cigarettes were considered harmless now? What harm does marijuana do to your body if you ate it? This is a slippery slope, will we ever actually know why we’re angry at things we don’t know anything about?

  2. The war on drugs exists for one purpose and that’s to discriminate against racial minorities as drug laws are set up to intentionally target minorities more than white drug users.

  3. Legalized drugs ( like alcohol? ) are a problem for the Pope.
    Is this part of the Catholic plan to cut expenses?
    No more wine at communion?

    Why is anyone listening to this incoherent president of a banana republic?

  4. Ho-hum: same old same old. This pope says the door to women’s ordination is closed, and now condemns the legalization of recreational drugs. I’m not impressed by the softer image: the ideology is the same.

    Drugs are fun! And once again, the Church has come out against fun. Same old same old.

  5. No man or man’s governments can do away with the war against drugs, because there is such a huge demand worldwide from what is perceived as an “escape” from personal and/or worldwide problems (drugs).

    The great news is that God’s kingdom or heavenly government will soon put an end to all the problems we face on a daily basis (including man’s corrupt political, economical, judicial and religious systems (Daniel 2:44). There will be no need to “escape” from the world of today, because it will be cleansed of any detrimental influences and conditions, including drugs and addictions.

    There will be no more sickness, disease, old age and death in the “new” world that is ahead of us (Revelation 21:1-4). Who would want to escape from that kind of world?

  6. Barry the Baptist

    Or anybody who recognizes that the American “War on Drugs” has been a colossal failure.

    On the one hand, the growth of our knowledge and wisdom with illicit substances has been severely hampered by the very same illicit nature which has been imposed. We don’t know how to safely regulate, we don’t know how to treat, and we don’t know how to incentivize people against using illegal drugs because they have been made illegal, stifling the research needed to figure this out. Making drugs illegal is proving just as effective as the American Prohibition of the 1920’s, with the exception that, due to the longevity of this prohibition, many cartels have become very rich, as opposed to the middling wealth the bootlegger barons made so long ago.

    On the other hand, keep your religious nose out of my business, Francis.

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