‘You may not be interested in politics,” goes the old saying, “but politics is interested in you.” The Church has rediscovered this truth many times in the last few years: clashes with governments over marriage, the sanctity of life, and religious liberty have simply become unavoidable.

Since all those issues are still very much alive, it might seem unnecessarily gloomy to ask what clashes might be next. But recent events in the United States suggest that debates over drug legalisation may be around the corner.

In July 2016, four bishops in Arizona signed a statement opposing the proposed legalisation of drugs in the state. Legalisation “sends a message to children and young people that drug use is socially and morally acceptable”, they said.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island has written an essay, “Nope to Dope”, against a similar piece of legislation in his state. Neither bill has yet been voted on.

But the issues here are more complex than those involved in, say, the redefinition of marriage. That is suggested by the actions of another group of bishops – those in California – who taken “no position” on drugs law – that is, let each bishop decide.

That states can pass laws on drug legalisation means that issues have moved more quickly in the US than in Britain. But the question is frequently raised – although few senior politicians have ever really made the case for drug legalisation. (The Lib Dems, for what it’s worth, support cannabis shops on the high street.)

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