Pope Francis Condemns Legalization of Marijuana

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Pope Francis Condemns Legalization of Marijuana
Wedding couples sit inside St. Peter's Basilica as they are married by Pope Francis, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Pope Francis delivers his blessing during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Alessandra Pucci smiles to Francesco Allotta after being married by Pope Francis, during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, left beneath a baldachin, weds twenty couples inside St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Pope Francis leaves after a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, center beneath a baldachin, weds twenty couples in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Sara Pisano, left, and Danilo Spagnoli, just married by Pope Francis, attend a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Daniele Landi, left, kisses Chiara Calabrese after being married by Pope Francis, during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Sara Pisano, left, and Danilo Spagnoli, just married by Pope Francis, smile during the wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis is framed by a balcony as he weds twenty couples in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Pope Francis, top center beneath a baldachin, weds twenty couples in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Forty "I do's", or "Si" in Italian, were pronounced in St. Peter's Basilica Sunday as Pope Francis married 20 couples, with one bride already a mother. Francis in his homily likened families to the "bricks that build society." (AP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli, pool)
Newly married couples attend a wedding ceremony led by Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis prays during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis holds the pastoral staff during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis, left, celebrates a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis holds the pastoral staff during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (R) and Italian cardinal Agostino Vallini attend the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis (C) greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Guido Tassara, left, and Gabriella Improta, just married by Pope Francis, exchange rings during a wedding ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Pope Francis married 20 couples Sunday, including some who already live together and those with children, technically a sin in the eyes of the church. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives to at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - JUNE 15: Pope Francis is seen walking through Santa Maria in Trastevere Square on a screen as he arrives at the St. Egidio Community on June 15, 2014 in Rome, Italy. Pope Francis visited the Community of Sant'Egidio at a meeting dedicated essentially to the poor, who are 'at the heart of the Gospel of Jesus' and constitute a fundamental commitment of the Community as friendship as service. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - JUNE 15: Pope Francis walks through Santa Maria in Trastevere Square meeting the faithful as he arrives at the St. Egidio Community on June 15, 2014 in Rome, Italy. Pope Francis visited the Community of Sant'Egidio at a meeting dedicated to the poor. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
Pope Francis flanked by Cardinal Agostino Vallini attends the opening of Rome's Diocese Conference at the Vatican, Monday, June16, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis flanked by Cardinal Agostino Vallini delivers his message on the occasion of the opening of Rome's Diocese Conference at the Vatican, Monday, June16, 2014. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper L' Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis greets Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson during his meeting with the participants in the Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace titled "Investing for the Poor" at the Vatican, Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano)
Pope Francis greets people as he arrives at the Conference of Rome's diocese on June 16, 2014 at Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ALBERTO PIZZOLI (Photo credit should read ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
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By NICOLE WINFIELD

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment as he lent his voice Friday to a debate that is raging from the United States to Uruguay.

Francis told delegates attending a Rome drug enforcement conference that even limited steps to legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects."

Likewise, Francis said, providing addicts with drugs offered only "a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon."

"Let me state this in the clearest terms possible," he said. "The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!"

Francis has described drug addiction as evil and met addicts on several occasions. When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he devoted much of his pastoral care to addicts.

Last month Argentina's neighbor Uruguay cleared the way for legal sales of marijuana cigarettes in pharmacies. Recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in the U.S. states of Colorado and Washington, while Oregon may vote on the issue this year.

With those successes, the marijuana legalization movement is gaining traction from the Americas to Europe and North Africa, where officials are eager to pursue policies that focus on promoting public health rather than battling drug traffickers.

But Francis emphasized Friday that the problems underlying drug use must be addressed, including social inequality and lack of opportunities for the young.

To reject illegal drugs, he said, "one has to say `yes' to life, `yes' to love, `yes' to others, `yes' to education, `yes' to greater job opportunities. If we say `yes' to all these things, there will be no room for illicit drugs, for alcohol abuse, for other forms of addiction."

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