| SAN FRANCISCO, July 8
SAN FRANCISCO, July 8 Former Mexican President
Vicente Fox took his crusade to legalize marijuana to San
Francisco on Monday, joining pot advocates to urge the United
States and his own country to decriminalize the sale and
recreational use of cannabis.
Fox met for three hours with the advocates, including Steve
DeAngelo, the Oakland-based executive director of California's
largest marijuana dispensary, and former Microsoft executive
Jamen Shively, who hopes to create a Seattle-based pot brand now
that Washington state has legalized recreational use.
Legalization, Fox told reporters after the meeting, is the
only way to end the violence of Mexican drug cartels, which he
blamed on America's war on drugs.
"The cost of the war is becoming unbearable - too high for
Mexico, for Latin America and for the rest of the world," Fox
said in English.
Every day, he said, 40 young people are killed in
Fox's position on legalizing drugs has evolved over time
since the days when he cooperated with U.S. efforts to tamp down
production in Mexico during his 2000-2006 presidential term. He
has been increasingly vocal in his opposition to current
policies, backing two prior efforts to legalize marijuana in
Mexico's current president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has opposed
legalization. But he recently said that he would consider world
opinion on the matter, particularly in light of recent
voter-approved initiatives to legalize marijuana in Washington
state and Colorado for recreational use.
In San Francisco on Monday, Fox said he had signed on to
attend and help develop an international summit later this month
in Mexico to strategize a path to end marijuana prohibition.
Participants scheduled to attend the three-day meeting
starting July 18 in San Cristobal include an American surgeon,
the dean of Harvard's School of Public Health and a Mexican
congressman who plans to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana
in Mexico this summer, Fox said.
The bill, which he expects to be introduced by Mexican
lawmaker Fernando Belaunzaran, would legalize adult recreational
use of marijuana, Fox said.
Support for legalizing marijuana in the United States has
been growing. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have
passed medical marijuana laws, according to the pro-legalization
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. But the
drug remains illegal under federal law.
Lifting the prohibition on cannabis in Mexico, however,
appears to face more of an uphill battle. Mexican lawmakers have
rejected previous legalization efforts and polls have shown
little popular support for the idea.
But Fox promised to wage what he said was a necessary
"We cannot afford more blood and the loss of more young
people," Fox said. "We must get out of the trap we are in."
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Eric Walsh)