Former president and marijuana entrepreneur Vicente Fox has urged lawmakers and authorities to legalize and regulate the recreational use of cannabis, asserting that doing so will reduce cartels’ income and create economic opportunities for ordinary Mexicans.
The Supreme Court (SCJN) has ruled that the prohibition of marijuana is unconstitutional and directed Congress to legalize its recreational use, but a bill to that end still hasn’t passed the Senate 1 1/2 years after it was approved by the Chamber of Deputies.
Fox – part owner of a chain of stores that sells products such as CBD (cannabidiol) oil, hemp oil, bongs, pipes, marijuana grinders and papers – said in a recent interview with the El Economista newspaper that he doesn’t understand why legalization and regulation haven’t happened.
“Legalizing and regulating this industry will take a lot of revenue away from cartels” and put it in the hands of marijuana growers and businesspeople, he said.
“In that way we can convert an illegal industry into an authorized industry, an industry that generates opportunities for Mexicans,” said Fox, president from 2000 to 2006 and a seasoned marijuana advocate.
“I started in this 20 years ago,” he told El Economista, referring to his advocacy for marijuana legalization.
“Sometimes people ask why [former] president Fox is involved in this, if he is a druggie or pothead – a lot of people make jokes,” Fox said. “I’m involved in this because I’m totally convinced that legalizing marijuana is [the way] to pull the rug out from under the cartels.”
The 80-year-old ex-president called on authorities to put regulations in place for the production, processing and recreational use of marijuana, which has effectively been decriminalized by the SCJN and is smoked openly in some parts of the country, including Mexico City and Oaxaca city.
Fox noted that marijuana has been legalized in many countries around the world and asserted that use of the plant “doesn’t cause harm to anyone.”
“Nobody has died from consuming marijuana anywhere in the world,” he said, adding that legalization of marijuana could open the door to Mexico becoming a significant producer and exporter of the plant.
“Many things can be done with this product in Mexico like those we’ve already done with vegetables, with berries, with so many products of which Mexico is an export champion,” Fox said.
The former president is involved in the staging of Canna México, a cannabis “world summit” that will be held at Centro Fox in the municipality of San Francisco del Rincón, Guanajuato, on October 19 and 20. Promoting the event last week, Fox reiterated the need to take the marijuana business out of the hands of criminals.
“We have to move from the shadows to the truth on this issue in order to take this beautiful plant from the hands of criminals who only cause harm, blackmail, rob and kill,” he said.
Putting marijuana in “the hands of businesspeople and doctors” would represent a “great transformation of this industry” – one that has already occurred in other parts of the world, Fox said.
Once recreational marijuana use is eventually approved – something that is considered inevitable given the SCJN’s directive – Mexico will become the world’s largest legal marijuana market. One municipality keen to take advantage of legalization is Tetecala, Morelos, where farmers believe that marijuana could be a more profitable crop than the sugar cane they have long grown.