It doesn’t get much more pro-marijuana than this.
Ex-President of Mexico Vicente Fox sat down for an interview with High Times magazine, where he blasted U.S.-led drug war efforts as a “total failure,” praised the Portuguese policy of total drug decriminalization, and reaffirmed his call to legalize weed.
“The War on Drugs convoked by President Nixon 40 years ago as has been a total failure,” Fox told High Times, which posted a video of the interview to YouTube on Tuesday.
“Of course I watch the Portugal phenomenon, which has been great,” Fox continued. “Total legalization and total good results.”READ MORE
Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, routing drug users through the public health system instead. A 2009 study by the Cato Institute found that teen rates of illegal drug use dropped, along with HIV infections from sharing needles, after the policy was implemented, according to Time Magazine. More than twice as many people sought treatment for drug addition after the new policy was implemented.
Fox pointed out that, despite the great resources poured into drug prohibition and the violence stemming from trafficking, illegal drugs actually pose less of a public health problem than legal drugs like alcohol and tobacco -- or even food.
“Today many more people die from excess in drinking alcohol, or excess in smoking, or excess in having bad eating habits,” Fox said. “And so diabetes, so obesity is killing much more people than drugs. Same thing with alcohol and that.”READ MORE
Fox has embraced drug legalization as his main issue recently. Last month he traveled to Seattle to speak as a guest for Don Pellicer, a company that hopes to commercialize marijuana in Washington and Colorado -- two states that recently legalized marijuana’s recreational use, though the federal government still views smoking pot for fun as illegal.
Shortly after the Seattle trip, Fox told Mexican newspaper Milenio he’d grow weed if it were legal.
But Fox says he’s not primarily motivated by a desire to enter into the marijuana business. He’s more concerned about the violence unleashed by ex-President Felipe Calderón’s frontal assault on the country’s drug cartels.
Some 70,000 people have died since Calderón launched the anti-cartel assault in 2006. To judge from the drugs seized by the Border Patrol on their way from Mexico to the United States, the world’s largest drug market, the vast majority of those killings stem from control over the trade in marijuana.
“My highest priority is to stop violence in Mexico,” Fox told High Times. “And this is one clear way that we will accomplish that in the process of time.”READ MORE
SEATTLE — Washington state businessmen who say they're trying to create the first national brand of marijuana received some heartfelt support Thursday from the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox.
Fox appeared at a news conference in Seattle, where he recounted how the war on drugs has ravaged his country and praised the states of Washington and Colorado for voting to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
At the news conference, former Microsoft manager Jamen Shively discussed his plans to launch a new marijuana brand named for his great-great-grandfather, Diego Pellicer. He says his company is joining forces with a Washington state chain of medical marijuana dispensaries run by John Davis, the Northwest Patient Resource Center, as well as dispensaries in Colorado and California.
"This historic step today is to be observed and evaluated closely by all of us, because it is a game changer," Fox said. "I applaud this group that has the courage to move ahead. They have the vision, they are clear where they're going, and I'm sure they're going to get there."READ MORE
Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive who was Mexico's president from 2000-06, specified that he's not involved in the venture. He appeared at Shively's invitation. The two first met 13 years ago, when a company Shively used to run was opening a computer center in Sinaloa and Fox appeared at the inauguration, Shively said.
Shively described grand visions for his pot brand -- hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, tens of millions of customers, more than 1,000 jobs just at Diego Pellicer's Seattle headquarters.
"Yes, we are Big Marijuana," he announced.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission last March, the company wrote that it had raised $125,000 of an anticipated $625,000. Shively suggested those were outdated, but did not provide different figures.
Washington and Colorado expect to begin allowing marijuana sales to adults over 21 at state-licensed stores beginning next year, but marijuana remains illegal under federal law, and the Justice Department has repeatedly said it can continue to prosecute large-scale, privately owned marijuana operations even when they comply with state law.
It isn't clear how Shively's plans for a national marijuana brand might be accomplished without running afoul of federal laws regarding the distribution of an illegal substance or conspiracy to distribute an illegal substance. He and Davis said no money from their business will travel interstate, nor will the marijuana itself, but neither of those factors would necessarily shield them from arrest.
Shively insisted that his deals with the dispensaries are structured in such a way as to minimize any risk of federal prosecution, but neither he nor Davis would explain how. Shively said he had acquired certain "rights" related to the dispensaries, and made the plan sound like a marketing agreement by which the stores, beginning next month, would be re-branded as Diego Pellicer.
Asked how his plan didn't constitute a federal conspiracy to distribute marijuana, Shively described his operation as "a conspiracy to obey the law."
His securities lawyer, Mike Moyer of the prominent Seattle firm of Dorsey and Whitney LLC, declined to elaborate.
Fox urged the reporters present to maintain a focus on the important issues at hand: the failure of the drug war, the thousands of lives lost, and the better alternative offered by legalization. He noted he'd rather be sitting at a table next to Shively than the notorious cartel leader Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.READ MORE