Pubdate: Tue, 09 Jul 2013
Source: San Francisco Examiner (CA)
Copyright: 2013 SF Newspaper Company LLC
Author: Chris Roberts


To save Mexico - and the world - a simple step must be taken: 
Legalize drugs. And not just marijuana - all drugs.

That's the message Vicente Fox brought to San Francisco on Monday, as 
the former Mexican president continued a string of pro-legalization 
appearances across the U.S.

"I am all for legalizing drugs, in the same way Portugal did," said 
Fox, referring to that country's move in 2001 to decriminalize 
possession of all drugs.

In that time, Portugal, which was struggling to combat high rates of 
HIV, "has ended a self-destructive path and found a decrease in 
consumption," said Fox, noting that in his country the stakes are much higher.

Some 80,000 people have been killed in Mexico in drug-fueled violence 
since 2006, when Fox's successor, former President Felipe Calderon, 
announced an all-out war on the country's "narcotrafico" cartels.

Calderon's policy has proved to be a "total failure," said Fox, who 
added that the American war on drugs also has not worked.

"Mammoth consumption levels" of drugs in the U.S. have fueled 
cartels' profits and made "the cost of the war [on drugs] ... 
unbearable for Mexico," said Fox, who spoke at a news conference 
Monday in The City.

This would all change if drugs were available for "responsible" 
adults on the retail market, he added.

Fox issued similar statements last month at an appearance in Seattle. 
Just like then, Fox was accompanied Monday by Jamen Shively, a former 
Microsoft engineer who has launched a company - Diego Pellicier Inc. 
- - that he hopes will become the country's first "premium marijuana 
retail brand."

Marijuana is illegal under federal law, but a growing number of 
states - the first was California in 1996 - allow small amounts of 
marijuana to be grown, sold and possessed for medical reasons. And 
last year, voters in Washington and Colorado legalized the drug.

Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug in the world. Much of 
the illegal marijuana in the U.S. is smuggled across the border via 
Mexico, law enforcement authorities contend.

In the coming months, a marijuana legalization bill will be 
introduced in the Mexican Congress, Fox said.

Current Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto earlier this year 
dismissed the idea of marijuana legalization.

In 2006, at the end of his term, Fox vetoed a drug decriminalization 
bill he had originally proposed. Pressure from the U.S. behind the 
scenes allegedly led to his about-face.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom