Former Mexican president Vicente Fox threw his weight Thursday behind a US entrepreneur’s drive to build a nationwide legal market for marijuana in the United States.
Fox, Mexico’s leader from 200-2006, appeared at a Seattle press conference where businessman Jamen Shively said the US states of Washington and Colorado are spearheading a move to tear down the “Berlin Wall” of pot criminalization.
“In Mexico we welcome this initiative, because the cost of the war in the case of Mexico is becoming unbearable,” said Fox, referring to deadly drug violence which has ravaged America’s southern neighbor.
The cost was “too high for Mexico, Latin America, and the rest of the world — the impact on the economy, on income, on tourism, investment but also talent .. and 80,000 kids’ death in the last six years,” he said.
“All this because our neighbor to the north represents such a gigantic consumer market. We must get out of this trap, and here is the opportunity,” he added.
Drug-linked violence exploded in Mexico after Fox’s successor Felipe Calderon deployed 50,000 troops to fight the cartels from 2006. More than 70,000 people died in the drug war during the Calderon administration.
His successor Enrique Pena Nieto announced the creation of a new national police force to fight crime and the cartels. The military will remain engaged until the new force, made up of former soldiers, is fully trained, he said.
Shively, a former Microsoft executive, is head of Diego Pellicer Inc, which describes itself as “the first retail brand in the United States focused exclusively on legal, premium marijuana for pleasure and creative pursuits.”
On Thursday, he laid out his case for a nationwide market for pot, following its decriminalization in the western states of Colorado and Washington, who voted in November to legalize it including for recreational use.
“By making cannabis illegal we have… turned it into a tool for violence, exploited by criminals and organized crime, spanning many countries,” Shively told reporters.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a unique moment in history. The Berlin Wall of the prohibition of cannabis… is weak, and it is crumbling as we speak,” he said.
“What remains to be done, is to… replace it with a system of laws, international agreements, regulations, and standards, to ensure a prosperous and safe cannabis industry,” he added.