New York, NY -- As Pope Francis' US tour continues, Friday he stopped in New York to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan.
In front of more than 150 world leaders, the Pope blasted the war on drugs, saying that it has been "poorly fought" and has led to corruption throughout many institutions.
It was also reported that Pope Francis was to visit a US prisoner on Friday, whose only crime was to be caught with marijuana.
These two moves by the Pope seem to contradict his previous statements on the legalization of marijuana he made last year. In June of 2014, Francis gave a speech in which he ranted against the "evil" of drugs. In regards to marijuana legalization, Francis said that such policies are “not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects.”
After listening to his speech at the UN on Friday, it seems that the Pope may be moving toward a more open stance on the horrors of prohibition.
When the government makes certain substances illegal, it does not remove the demand. Instead, the state creates crime by pushing the sale and control of these substances into the illegal black markets. All the while, demand remains constant.
We can look at the prohibition of alcohol and the subsequent mafia crime wave that ensued as a result as an example. The year 1930, at the peak of prohibition, happened to be the deadliest year for police in American history. 300 police officers were killed, and innumerable poor people slaughtered as the state cracked down on drinkers.
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Outlawing substances does not work.
Criminal gangs form to protect sales territory and supply lines. They then monopolize the control of the constant demand. Their entire operation is dependent upon police arresting people for drugs because this grants them a monopoly on their sale. The money generated from the monopoly is ultimately funneled back up to politicians who use their political clout to secure trade routes for the illegal drugs.
The drug war creates and fosters corruption in politics, and it seems that the Pope is waking up to this notion.
“[It is] a war which is taken for granted and poorly fought. Drug trafficking is by its very nature accompanied by trafficking in persons, money laundering, the arms trade, child exploitation, and other forms of corruption,” said Francis. “A corruption which has penetrated to the different levels of social, political, military, artistic and religious life. And, in many cases, has given rise to a parallel structure which threatens the credibility of our institutions.”
While the Pope's stance on many issues seems to be all over the map, when the Free Thought Project sees an influential figure make such a challenging statement, we think it is certainly worth mentioning.
In a speech given on Thursday, Francis said that “just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation."
Despite his apparent separation from the ordinary citizen, the Pope should not be okay with cases like Jeff Mizanskey, who was robbed of two decades of his life for because a plant is illegal. Hopefully, Francis has opened his eyes to the evil reality of locking nonviolent pot smokers in cages and the subsequent cesspool of government corruption that happens as a result.