GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The so-called global war on drugs is a “total failure” and the United States should consider legalizing and regulating marijuana to help further crack down on violent drug cartels, former Mexican President Vicente Fox charged Monday.
In an interview with MLive.com, Fox, who is in Grand Rapids as keynote speaker for the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan’s 63rd Anniversary Dinner, perpetuated his widely reported belief that an amended drug policy would benefit both the United States and Mexico.
“It’s been a total failure,” Fox said of the war on drugs. “We must have new answers to this old problem. And I think legalization must be considered now, urgently.”
Drug trafficking and efforts by U.S. and Mexican authorities to curb the problem are just a few of the topics Fox said he would discuss during Monday’s dinner.
Fox, who served as Mexico’s president from 2000 to 2006, equated the war on drugs to Prohibition, and said “kids are not crazy. Kids are reasonable and responsible, and kids know that drugs affect, severely, their health.”
Instead, Fox said the U.S. should consider legalizing and regulating marijuana production, distribution and use.
“On the contrary, it would be taking away this huge business from the cartels,” Fox continued. “It would be separating crime and violence from a health issue, like the United States did 100 years ago with alcohol.”
Monday’s keynote was to be fashioned as an “armchair discussion,” with James Falk, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Ft. Worth moderating the discussion.
Fox, also a former president of Coca-Cola’s Mexican and Latin American operations, said he also would discuss immigration policy and the need to revisit the North American Free Trade Agreement to stay competitive with China and India.
Like the war on drugs, Fox said he believes the United States’ handling of immigration policy has spiraled out of control.
He cited Arizona’s controversial law that, among other things, allows police officers in the state to request a person’s papers, even if no wrongdoing is suspected, as evidence of a growing rift between the countries.
“Congress should deal with it and not let open spaces for the state legislatures to regulate it, because then you see cases like Arizona,” Fox said.
“Not even a state issue, being a federal issue, they regulated it with a sense of discrimination, with a sense of xenophobia, and,” he continued, in perhaps a jab at the partially erected border fence between the U.S. and Mexico, “I think instead of building walls we should be building bridges.”
Monday's dinner was scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m., with the keynote to follow.
By Zane McMillin | The Grand Rapids Press
October 08, 2012 at 6:04 PM
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