Former Mexican President: U.S. Should Legalize All Drugs; 'It's to the Benefit of Everybody'

By Edwin Mora | October 18, 2011 | 5:44 PM EDT

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox. (AP Photo.)

( -- Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said the United States should legalize all drugs, starting with marijuana, because it will have enormous benefits for Mexico, where violence associated with drug trafficking has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths in recent years.

At an event held by the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., asked Fox, “Do you think the U.S. should legalize all drugs?”

Fox said: “I do think so, but let’s just start with marijuana.”

In explaining the benefits of legalizing all drugs in the United States, Fox said: “It will separate health from crime. It would benefit Mexico enormously at this moment when we are in deep problems. So, it’s to the benefit of everybody.”

Although Fox noted that Mexico already allows the consumption of any drug, he suggested that in dealing with its narcotics problem, Mexico should go a step further and legalize the sale, use, and production of all drugs as a means to end the drug war that has claimed thousands of lives in that country.

“Today [in Mexico], is not forbidden to consume marijuana or [cocaine] or any drug,” Fox said during his speech at Cato. “You can consume whichever drug you like and there’s no penalty for that. The penalty is for distributing and producing or [transporting] from there. So at least that exists in Mexico today. But I think we should go further ahead. My proposal is to legalize completely all drugs and the whole chain of production: the farming or production in factories; the distribution; the selling; and the collecting of the money.”

Bags of cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics seized by the U.S. Coast Guard. (AP Photo.)

“I don’t see anything wrong [with legalizing all drugs],” he later added. “The figures I have is that, in Mexico, not more than a thousand people, not more, die from an overdose of drugs of whichever drug. In exchange, tens of thousands of people die from drinking alcohol in excess or die from smoking [tobacco] and getting cancer.”

He pointed out that the reason he did not legalize all drugs in Mexico when he was president is because the drug problem there was not as bad as it is now.

Fox preceded current Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who launched an aggressive campaign against the cartels in his country upon taking office in 2006. Various estimates suggest that more than 40,000 people have died since that campaign started.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s 2011 National Drug Threat Assessment, “Overall demand is rising, largely supplied by illicit drugs smuggled to U.S. markets by major transnational criminal organizations (TCOs).”

“Major Mexican-based TCOs continue to solidify their dominance over the wholesale illicit drug trade [in the U.S.] as they control the movement of most of the foreign-produced drug supply across the U.S. Southwest Border,” reads the assessment. It further states, “Major Mexican-based TCOs will continue to dominate wholesale drug trafficking in the United States for the foreseeable future and will further solidify their positions through collaboration with U.S. gangs.”

The assessment notes that, according to the latest figures, “The estimated economic cost of illicit drug use to [U.S.] society for 2007 was more than $193 billion.”

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