Saturday, June 15, 2024

Mexico should get around to legalizing marijuana, already

It’s funny to think about how improbable some things are:  the popularity of shows like Duck Dynasty, the return of “mom jeans” worn unironically by 18-year-olds, the cult-like following of a crass reality-TV star with a long string of bankruptcies behind him and his subsequent election to the U.S. presidency.

It’s a crazy world, and literally anything can happen. That includes Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico (2000–2006) becoming the corporate face and principal advocate for legalized marijuana in Mexico.

Fox has always been a little goofy and prone to antics that have made his fellow citizens all over the world close their eyes and shake their heads slowly. 

But if you ask me, he’s found his true post-presidential calling in comedy; did y’all see those videos he made addressing then-President Trump about the border wall? 

His own vision for his current career, however, is in marijuana

Already the owner of a multitude of stores in Mexico that cater to a public demanding cannabis products, he seems to be feeling a bit impatient with Mexico’s tardiness in formally legalizing marijuana so that the industry can actually be regulated. So far, the Supreme Court has simply said that a ban on marijuana is unconstitutional, but we’re still lacking any laws telling us who can produce it, sell it, how it can be taxed, etc.

To be fair, the guy’s 80 years old. I’d be pretty impatient too.

Fox is obviously interested in the business side of it. Imagine the profit he stands to make once all his stores start selling actual, smokable weed and edibles! Though there are plenty of drugs to choose from out there, marijuana is always a popular choice, and a relatively benign one for most people. It’s a great business.

And by selling franchises of his store, others can then make handsome profits and create (hopefully well-paying) jobs up and down the production line. It’s a very proper goal for a member of Mexico’s party of free enterprise.

He also argues forcefully that formally legalizing marijuana will loosen the grip of power currently held by narcos in the country. Their income — and by extension their power —  will presumably be reduced as a result. 

On this point, I have my doubts.

While I would love to believe that that’s exactly what would happen, I think the cartels have shown us that they’ve got a lot more irons in the fire than the one that deals in marijuana. 

Taking that industry away (if we can even do so peacefully) would be like telling all the OXXO stores they can’t sell packages of popcorn anymore: it might hurt their bottom line a bit, but it would by no means put them out of business. And since the cartels have been known to take over perfectly legal industries as well, it’s hard to imagine that we’d really succeed in taking away that portion of their business unless they expressly decided to let us. 

Maybe they will? Maybe kind of, halfway? Maybe it will depend on the region and the presence, or lack of presence, of the protection of “good guys with guns” (ha) in uniform who may or may not be working with them? Time will tell.

But I’m with him on several points, including a perplexity about why legalization laws have yet to be passed. What are we waiting for? Is it just not a legislative priority? 

I’m personally about as excited about the prospect of being able to buy weed openly as I would be if a new kind of paper towel came onto the market. The few times I’ve tried it I’ve 100% hated the way it made me feel. But most people seem to really enjoy it, and its beneficial medicinal use alone is enough to turn me into a full-fledged legalization advocate. 

In the meantime, I think a good use of resources around here would be ensuring the rule of law in all of Mexico’s territories in a way that would protect citizens and legitimate businesses, no matter how small or lacking in influence. 

For this economy to grow, people need to actually feel safe enough to start something … especially if the last people to run that kind of something were members of organized crime groups.

Hopefully a strengthening of our justice system will go hand in hand with new opportunities for Mexicans to start and grow profitable, legitimate businesses in any area they wish. 

Besides, there are a lot of stressful things going on in this world right now, and I think we could all use a little easy relaxation. The least we could do for people is to let them find the strain of their choice and toke up. 

I’ll sit with y’all, but I’ll just be having a beer.

Sarah DeVries is a writer and translator based in Xalapa, Veracruz. She can be reached through her website,

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