U.S. should legalize drugs, says former Mexican president Fox

SAN ANTONIO Tue May 3, 2011 2:27pm EDT

A Mexican soldier arranges blocks of marijuana, weighing a total of 46 tons, before they are incinerated at a military base in the border city of Tijuana May 11, 2010. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes

A Mexican soldier arranges blocks of marijuana, weighing a total of 46 tons, before they are incinerated at a military base in the border city of Tijuana May 11, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jorge Duenes

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SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said this week that the only way to end the drug violence plaguing his country is for the United States to legalize drugs.

"As a country, we are going through problems due to the fact that the United States consumes too many drugs," Fox, who served as Mexico's president from 2000-2006, told reporters Monday night before a speech at the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio.

"I would recommend to legalize, de-penalize all drugs," Fox added.

He said the drug violence threatens to rip his country apart. It has claimed more than 37,000 lives in Mexico since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and sent the army to combat cartels fighting for smuggling routes to the United States.

President Barack Obama has made it a priority to work with Calderon to curb smuggling over the nearly 2,000-mile border, a lucrative transit point for criminal networks hauling drugs and illegal immigrants north to the United States and guns and billions in cash profits south to Mexico.

Fox said the U.S. drug market generates billions of dollars that are laundered in the United States and flow into Mexico, money that is used to bribe Mexican police officers and government officials and to buy weapons that are brought into Mexico.

"The question is not what is going on in Mexico, but what is going on in the United States," Fox said.

Fox accused U.S. politicians of using his country's bloody drug war as a talking point, while they are unwilling to take the tough steps needed to end it.

"I have never heard President Obama say, 'No more drugs for our kids,'" Fox said. "The U.S. does not want to stop it."

Fox said so many of the Mexican victims are young people between 15 and 24 years old that the country faces a "lost generation" due to the drug war. And, he said, Mexico is paying not only in lives but in investment and in lost income from tourism.

"We don't deserve what we're going through right now," Fox said.

The former president said drug use in the United States is so huge no law can stop it, so American politicians need to take the bold step of legalizing drugs.

He lamented last November's defeat of a ballot measure in California that would have legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes.

Fox cited the example of Portugal, which decriminalized the possession of drugs for personal use in 2001. He cited a Cato Institute report that drug use is down 25 percent in that country.

"This can be done, and this would separate the issues of crime and violence from the issue of health, which are two separate issues," he said.

He said some of the money being used in the war on drugs could then be used to convince Americans not to use drugs, and on more extensive drug treatment and intervention programs.

(Additional reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Corrie MacLaggan)

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Comments (11)
DrJJJJ wrote:
BS! Normalizing/expanding further drug use across America is the last thing we now, we have a moral crisis as it is and legalizing more drugs is a poor excuse for poor leadership! Attack your drug smugglers like they’re terrorist and your country will prosper! Secularization of church and state doesn’t work-the results are in! Legalizing destructive drugs should not be an option! Former pot head!

May 03, 2011 1:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
jway wrote:
If there are no victims when alcohol’s purchased from a supermarket and consumed at home then there are also no victims when marijuana’s purchased from a supermarket and consumed at home. We’re arresting 800,000 people a year for NO good reason!

The federal marijuana prohibition empowers drug dealers and the Mexican drug cartels by preventing any form of legal competition to their activities. Instead of protecting children from marijuana, the law creates an environment of zero legal supply amidst massive and unrelenting demand that makes our children LESS safe.

The prohibition costs taxpayers $40 billion a year, generates 800,000 unnecessary arrests each year, diverts $10 billion a year to the Mexican drug cartels, is directly responsible for the death of more than 35,000 people in Mexico in just the last four years, and lures drug dealers into our neighborhoods selling their stinking weed to our children. And worst of all, it doesn’t even stop kids from smoking marijuana!

We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales – to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana should be legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

May 03, 2011 2:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Emcee001 wrote:
What utter nonsense!! So, the United States is now responsible for the weak character of Mexican officials who accept bribes? No way! And, President Obama has been working to ‘curb drug smuggling?’ Oh, you mean the same Obama who will not enforce existing law against illegal immigration, the same Obama who sues states to stop them from trying to enforce the law? The same Obama who will give Brazil millions of dollars to help its oil exploration efforts, but won’t make our borders safe? Riiiiggggghhht!! I was born early, but not yesterday!

May 03, 2011 3:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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