Drug Policy

The Pope Needs to Meet More Drug Users



As prohibitionists typically do, Pope Francis conflated drug use with drug abuse when he denounced marijuana legalization on Friday. "Let me state this in the clearest terms possible," he said. "The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs!" But what, exactly, is "the problem of drug use"? Francis seems to have in mind a harmful, life-disrupting pattern of heavy use. "Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise," he said. "To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem." Even if we agree that "drug addiction is an evil," prohibition clearly magnifies that evil by consigning users to a black market where prices are artificially high, quality and potency are unpredictable, dangerous methods of administration are encouraged, conflicts are resolved through violence, and consumers are subject to arrest at any moment. It is debatable whether these costs can be justified by reference to the potential addicts they deter, especially since the burdens are imposed on people who do not benefit from them. In any case, what about drug users who are not addicts? Francis seems to think they do not exist.

Although Francis referred to "alcohol abuse" as an example of addiction, he did not condemn drinking per se (a dicey proposition, given wine's role as a Catholic sacrament). But he made no such distinction in connection with the currently prohibited intoxicants, which most people manage to consume without ruining their lives. That black-and-white attitude may not be surprising coming from a man with "years of personal experience ministering to addicts in the drug-laden slums of the Argentine capital," as the Associated Press puts it. Similarly, the work of the cops and addiction treatment specialists who welcomed the pope's remarks regularly exposes them to people with drug problems. It is risky to draw general conclusions from such skewed samples. To put it another way, Francis' encounters with down-and-out paco addicts in Buenos Aires tell us nothing about the merits of letting lawyers and schoolteachers in Colorado unwind with a little Cherry O.G. after a hard day at work.

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  1. You know, the pope can really go fuck himself.

    1. Epi has hated the Catholic church ever since his mom signed him up as an altar boy at six different parishes without him being molested even once.

    2. That would be ridiculously sinful, Epi.

  2. I heard he’s pro-life.

  3. Pope Frank needs a hooker and some blow.

    1. That’s what the boys’ choir is for.


  4. It seems like a strange position from the head of an organization that dispenses wine on a daily basis.

  5. I thought it was OK to use drugs if you felt guilty about it afterwards.

    1. Naw, that’s the Jewish Mothers.

      1. Catholics do guilt too. It differs because it is self-guilt. e.g. I am wretched, I have sinned, forgive me Lord. None of that “why don’t you call more often” pushing guilt on others.

      2. It’s OK to use Jewish mothers if you feel guilty afterwards? Thanks that’s a load off my mind.

  6. “To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem.”

    Setting aside the parsing of that nonsensical string of words, lets ask Portugal about that. The perfect is the enemy of the good, is it?

    Commie pope is an idiot. But then, aren’t all commies?

  7. If this were coming from the Mormon’s, I’d understand…

  8. And babies burned by flash-bangs, Father?

    1. The Lord works in mysterious ways…

      1. +1 burning bush…or baby

  9. I know many ardent drug warriors, none of whom know I partake in the herb from time to time.

    When it comes to warriors, the enemy is the enemy. If I was to tell them I smoke, it wouldn’t change their opinion of drugs and drug users.

    It would only change their opinion of me.

    1. I know many of them too. Make no mistake, many of them partake, and the majority of the ones who don’t wish they could.

  10. You know who else discouraged Opium for Masses?

    1. Wait, don’t tell me. A highly religious figure… I can’t remember who. It’s right there…

      Was it one of the Marx Brothers?

      1. Groucho?

        1. Baba Rammed Ass?

    2. well, I know it WASN’T Yves Saint Laurent…

  11. I’ll just say I’m curious about the headline about not meeting enough drug users, since, as the post acknowledges, the Pope has already met plenty.

    From the AP article:

    “As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had his priests open drug rehab centers in the Buenos Aires slums where “paco” addiction was rampant, and he famously washed the feet of recovering paco addicts during at least two Holy Thursday services.

    “The drug, a highly addictive and cheap substance made from the by-products of cocaine production and other toxic chemicals, is known as the drug of choice for Argentina’s poor because of its prevalence in the slums where the pope, formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, devoted his ministry.”

    Perhaps Jacob Sullum means that if the Pope had ministered to pot-smoking professionals in Colorado he would have been more chill about the whole thing, which could be true.

    I suspect it would be easy to freak out about drugs when you spend so much time among some of the worst-off addicts.

    1. Correlation not causation. If your life is so desperate that huffing paint or taking paco is something worth doing all the time, that’s its own problem. Perhaps drugs made it worse, but perhaps you were already in an existential hell where there wasn’t any hope. Maybe they already had the “sickness unto death” where they didn’t want to live, but didn’t care enough to die.

      1. I suspect this is so – at least the rehab centers show them there may still be some things to hope for.

      2. Dangerous drugs like paco are also a product of the drug war. If they could get the pure stuff cheaply, no doubt they would.

  12. My guess is, the Pope already knows plenty of drug users, not even counting alcohol.

    He just doesn’t know they are drug users. Which is kind of the point, if you think about it.

    1. If he learned that people he respects use drugs, it wouldn’t change his opinion of drugs or drug users. No, he’d just lose respect for those people and continue to view drugs as a moral evil. It’s a moral issue. It would be like learning they were murderers or rapists. It wouldn’t change his opinion of rape or murder.

      1. Whatever you think of his position, he washed the feet of drug users. That seems respectful to me.

        1. It’s not respectful, it’s just an ostentatious way of saying, “Look how generous I am, doing something degrading to me even though it’s of only tiny benefit to you. Surely you could wash your own feet; in fact, it’d be less trouble for you than having me do it. But it supposedly demonstrates I have practically no ego at all!”

          1. It’s like sucking dick, come to think of it.

            1. I just switched sucking dick for washing feet in your paragraph above. Fail.

          2. If he *stopped* with the foot-washing he could be accused of fake humility – but he did more and actually supported rehabilitation centers.

            The foot-washing goes to the spirit in which the help is offered. The gesture says, “I’m helping you, but I’m not looking down on you, I’m simply doing my duty to God and neighbor.”

            1. I wish he could faith-heal nail fungus.

  13. That black-and-white attitude may not be surprising coming from a man with “years of personal experience ministering to addicts in the drug-laden slums of the Argentine capital,”

    Look at this way, Pope, if you didn’t have these denizens to save, you wouldn’t be the Pope. Praise to the sinners.

  14. I sort of admire the Pope’s recent turn towards communism. You have to admit, it’s a pretty clever way to distract a bunch of unfriendly leftist media types from all those sex scandals.

    The drug thing, eh. An organization that has thrived for twenty centuries on making people ashamed of wanting to feel good continues to do just that? What else is new?

  15. “Cop admits running teen prostitution ring”


    (I won’t be around for PM links)

    1. Pimpin’ ain’t easy…

    2. “Prosecutors have asked a federal judge to sentence Barnhill to 8 years, which is lower than federal guidelines of nine to 12 years.”

  16. Even if he’s making the statement solely about addiction, ok: addiction is an evil. so what? There’s always been addiction, there always will be. It’s the next step that I’m interested. What are you going to do about it? Pray for the suffering? Or use force to fight evil? Seems to me that creates a whole lot more suffering.

  17. he did not condemn drinking per se (a dicey proposition, given wine’s role as a Catholic sacrament)

    That’s not very dicey.

    Nobody this side of the Temperance League thinks the sacrament is “drinking” even though it’s wine, because it’s a glorified (pun intended) sip.

  18. Superstition is much more dangerous than any drug.

    1. The Catholic Church promotes drug abuse through guilt-tripping.

  19. After reading the Pope’s statements in support of continuing the status quo concerning drug prohibition, it is clear to me that the Pope isn’t infallible. But then again, what else is new?

    1. He’s only infallible ex cathedra, dude.

  20. Sigh. Another example of the church wanting to legislate morality. Legalization does not mean condoning use. The Pope would be free to convince people to accept Jesus and reject Mary Jane.

  21. The Pope just needs to read St. Thomas Aquinas more closely:

    Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.

    1. I agree with you, and the quote, but my only quibble is with conflating murder and theft with vices like gambling or drug use. Perhaps the fault is in the translation, but murder and theft are qualitatively different, note merely “more grievous vices.”

  22. He got a huge thank you note and contribution from the Cartels for solidifying their control.
    Can you be infallible and clueless at the same time?

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