MEXICO CITY -- Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico, was one of the earliest and most prominent voices in favor of legalizing marijuana here. Now he says he would also become a grower.
Fox, who is known for provocative statements, argues that legalizing and regulating marijuana production would deprive violent drug traffickers of their profits. And then legitimate growers would naturally take over production, he says.
“I am a farmer,” Fox told reporters this week at his Fox Center in central Mexico’s Guanajuato state. “Once marijuana is legitimate and legal, I can do it.”
The millions of dollars that marijuana production generates should be going to business entrepreneurs and the Mexican tax base, the former president added, and not to the likes of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel and one of the world’s top fugitive drug lords.
“Marijuana with adequate controls and with legalization can perfectly well be an operating, legal industry [in Mexico] that would take millions of dollars away from the criminals,” said Fox, who was president from 2000 to 2006 for the conservative National Action Party.
At least three years ago, Fox became one of a number of former Latin American leaders to advocate some form of decriminalization of marijuana and possibly other drugs -- a position adamantly opposed by the U.S. government.
His latest statements, which were carried in the Mexican media Thursday, came as the Organization of American States debated at its annual general assembly alternative approaches to a drug war that many member nations feel has become too violent with little progress.
Several countries were advocating a shift in emphasis to public health measures rather than jailing and police action. The meeting in Antigua, Guatemala, winds up Thursday, but it was not clear there would be consensus on final recommendations regarding drug policies.