Pope Francis is visiting the city of Juárez, Mexico, today.

Juárez is a city that at one point had a higher civilian casualty rate than Afghanistan during the US occupation. An article from 2011 notes:

10,000 homicides (have occurred in Juárez) in the past four years. That’s more than Afghanistan’s civilian casualties in the same period and more than double the number of U.S. troops killed in the entire Iraq war.

But in the last two years, the violence rate in Juárez has dropped considerably. An article from July of 2015 explains:

More than 3,000 people were killed in the city just four years ago, but so far this year there have been 89 killings.

What do experts credit this drop in violence to? Well, as Time Magazine explains, the cartels have lost a major industry now that marijuana is legal in several US states, and this is diminishing their power and potential for mischief:

U.S. Border Patrol has been seizing steadily smaller quantities of the drug, from 2.5 million pounds in 2011 to 1.9 million pounds in 2014. Mexico’s army has noted an even steeper decline, confiscating 664 tons of cannabis in 2014, a drop of 32% compared to year before…This fall appears to have little to do with law enforcement, however, and all to do with the wave of U.S. marijuana legalization…Coinciding with legalization, violence has decreased in Mexico.

The Pope’s visit to Juárez could not likely have even occurred at the height of the drug war there. So one would think that the Pope would be grateful toward US legalization efforts and the reduction of violence they’ve brought. Not so:

Pope Francis emerged on Friday as a speaker at the International Drug Enforcement Conference in Rome, where he said he was opposed to the legalization of drugs—including marijuana—for recreational use…’Attempts, however limited, to legalize so-called recreational drugs, are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce desired effects,’ (Francis said).

Why does Pope Francis oppose legalization? One can only speculate. But every death in the drug war has many accomplices, from the cartels who pull the trigger, to the politicians who pass the laws, to the pharmaceutical companies, police, and prison guards who lobby for them. The man who arguably wields the most influence on planet earth certainly does his part by using the papal platform to argue for policies that increase violence.