Mexico could legalize marijuana in five years: former president

SAN CRISTOBAL, Mexico Fri Jul 19, 2013 9:27pm EDT

Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox (C) talks with Tana Lee Tolson (L), from Nurses Union for Cannabis Hospices, before a news conference held by commercial marijuana company Diego Pellicer Inc. in Seattle, Washington, May 30, 2013. REUTERS/Marcus Donner

Former President of Mexico Vicente Fox (C) talks with Tana Lee Tolson (L), from Nurses Union for Cannabis Hospices, before a news conference held by commercial marijuana company Diego Pellicer Inc. in Seattle, Washington, May 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Marcus Donner

Related Topics

SAN CRISTOBAL, Mexico (Reuters) - Mexico could legalize marijuana within the next five years, stripping brutal drug cartels of a major source of income, former President Vicente Fox said on Friday.

Fox, who battled the powerful cartels while president between 2000 and 2006, has since become a staunch advocate of reforming Mexico's drug laws, arguing that prohibition has helped create the criminal market that sustains the gangs.

Under his successor, Felipe Calderon, Mexico launched a military offensive to crush the cartels, but the violence spiraled instead, and more than 70,000 people have been killed in drug-related bloodletting since the start of 2007.

Legalization was the best way of ending the "butchery" of the drug gangs, Fox said as he hosted a conference in support of the measure in his home state of Guanajuato in central Mexico.

President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office in December, is opposed to legalization, but he has said that the decision by the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado to legalize recreational marijuana use has given him a more open mind.

Asked by Reuters whether Mexico could legalize marijuana by the time Pena Nieto's term ends in 2018, Fox said:

"I think it's going to happen much sooner. Once California gets into this, Mexico is going to be obligated to speed up its decision process."

Previous bills to legalize marijuana in Mexico have failed to move forward and a majority of Mexicans oppose such a move.

California, which borders Mexico, rejected a 2010 measure to legalize cannabis, though medical marijuana is legal.

Plans are still underway to legalize recreational use of marijuana in California, and Tom Angell, a spokesman for Marijuana Majority, a U.S.-based group in favor of cannabis reform, said the state was very likely to vote again by 2016.

Fox's view reflects a wider trend in Latin America where a number of former and current leaders, including Guatemalan President Otto Perez, are backing alternative approaches to U.S.-backed strategies of eradication and interdiction.

The 71-year-old Fox, whose election in 2000 for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) ended seven decades of one-party rule in Mexico, worked closely with the United States during his time in office to combat Mexican drug gangs.

But after leaving office, he became a fierce critic of the strategy pursued by his party colleague Calderon.

That angered many in the PAN, and Fox sparked more uproar during last year's presidential election campaign by encouraging Mexicans to support Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which ruled Mexico between 1929 and 2000.

Fox has been campaigning for marijuana legalization at a series of events this year in the United States and Mexico.

On Friday he was joined by former Microsoft executive James Shively, who plans to create the first U.S. national marijuana brand, as well as a wide range of activists and academics that included former Mexican health minister Julio Frenk.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Dave Graham and; Eric Beech)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
Paulpot wrote:
20 US states have medical marijuana. When 26 states, that’s 50% plus one, have medical marijuana, then it will be totally obvious that no-one is listening to the feds. And the way things are going it will happen by the 2016 election. A majority of people and a majority of states will leave the Feds with no option but to reform its laws and prohibition will begin to fall around the world. So President Fox’s prediction is probably quite accurate.

Jul 20, 2013 6:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
knowa wrote:
Its hard to believe our Government has Lied to us and our youth knows it.
The Cannabis Culture needs to put their focus on Florida.

Jul 20, 2013 6:10pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
knowa wrote:
We need the Worlds Cannabis Culture to put their focus on Florida’s 700,000 voters signature Petition drive due Feb 1st 2014 if Florida go the rest country will follow. Unitedforcare with what ever you can or are able to do.
http://www.unitedforcare.org/sign_up?recruiter_id=2300

Jul 22, 2013 9:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.