Pope Francis strongly condemned the legalization of recreational drugs on Friday, arguing that the idea is legally questionable and a "veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon," according to the Associated Press. While speaking at a drug enforcement conference in Rome, the pope said drug legalization often fails to produce the desired effect. "Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: the problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!"
Francis has given his "just say no" speech a number of times, as activists push for drug legalization both in his home country of Argentina and in Europe. In condemning drug legalization, Francis is lumping marijuana, which many see as relatively harmless, with more addictive and dangerous drugs, like narcotics. The Latin American drug cartels he's spoken out against — and called "merchants of death" — traffic cocaine. Last July, while visiting drug addicts in Rio de Janeiro, Francis said “a reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use."
He echoed the comments again in February, when "anti-prohibitionist" activists marched in Rome in favor of liberalized marijuana laws. At the time he emphasized that dealing with the root causes of drug addiction, like a lack of education and justice, were the best ways to end the epidemic.