Mexico’s Former President Vicente Fox Joins Calls to Legalize Drugs

BY Larisa Epatko  July 18, 2012 at 1:50 PM EST

Making drug consumption legal in the United States would lessen its use and take the illegal stream of money away from the criminal cartels now thriving on the trade in Mexico, former Mexican President Vicente Fox told David Nazar of PBS SoCal in Los Angeles this week.

“Other nations that have taken this step to legalize, like Portugal and Holland, drug consumption has not increased — on the contrary, it has decreased — in the case of Portugal, by 25 percent,” said Fox. And making drug consumption legal would remove the funding source from drug cartels in Mexico, he said.

People should decide in “their responsible exercise of freedom” whether or not they want to consume drugs, Fox continued. In Mexico, he said, drug consumption is not a crime, though it is a crime to produce and distribute drugs.

Fox has joined the voices of other Latin American leaders and former leaders calling for at the very least having the legalization of drugs be part of the dialogue to come up with a new strategy for the drug war, but the United States has remained adamantly opposed. In Mexico, a military-led crackdown on criminal cartels, which began six years ago, has led to at least 50,000 deaths.

Earlier this month, NewsHour correspondent Margaret Warner spoke to Mexican President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, who said while he doesn’t agree with legalizing drugs, he thinks it should be part of the conversation to come up with a new way to combat drug-trafficking.

“I’m not saying we should legalize,” he said. “But we should debate in Congress, in the hemisphere and especially the U.S. should participate in this broad debate.”

Watch their full interview:

Watch another NewsHour report on the toll the drug war is taking on Mexico:

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