Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, July 25 - Pope Francis spoke out strongly against legalizing drugs on a visit to a rehabilitation center in Brazil, condemning a growing movement in Latin America to liberalize marijuana sales and other narcotics. "A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America," said the pontiff at the St Francis of Assisi hospital late Wednesday. "It is necessary rather 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". Policymakers across Latin America have been considering liberalizing anti-drug laws after years of fighting narco-traffickers has been blamed more for fomenting violence than credited with curbing abuse and illegality. Thursday is the pope's first full day of events since arriving in Brazil Monday for the week-long World Youth Day, marking his first international trip as pontiff.