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Pope Francis spoke out against legalizing drugs in Latin America, and called drug cartels “merchants of death,” Wednesday during his visit to Brazil. He made his remarks while inaugurating a drug rehabilitation clinic, according to USA Today.

The presidents of Guatemala and Uruguay and former president of Mexico Vincente Fox have suggested that drugs be legalized, the newspaper notes. Supporters of legalization say it would decrease demand for drug traffickers and reduce violence.

“A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addition will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug laws,” Pope Francis said. “Rather, it is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people … accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future.”

The Los Angeles Times reports the Pope told a group of people being treated for addiction, “It is necessary to confront the problems underlying the use of these drugs, by promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future.”


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