When it comes to current and former world leaders, you will be hard-pressed to find someone as outspoken about cannabis reform as former President of Mexico Vicente Fox. Fox was the 62nd President of Mexico, having served in that position from 2000 to 2006.
Vicente Fox was not outspoken while in office, however, after leaving office he has gone on the record many times to support cannabis legalization in Mexico and beyond. Few countries, if any, have been as ravaged by the War on Drugs compared to Mexico, and the cannabis trade was (and still is) part of that, although less so now than in previous years.
For many decades cannabis was cultivated in Mexico and smuggled into the United States. Cultivating cannabis is cheap and fairly easy to do in Mexico, and demand for that cannabis was historically strong north of Mexico. Demand for Mexican cannabis in the United States has dwindled in recent years with the rise of legal cannabis in the U.S.
If Vicente Fox has his way, cannabis will continue to flow from Mexico to the United States as well as to Canada, albeit in a legal fashion. Former president Fox recently suggested that such a move should be part of any upcoming trade deal between the three countries.
Cannabis And NAFTA 2.0
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was an agreement entered into by Canada, Mexico, and the United States in 1994. The signed agreement created a trilateral trade bloc in the North American continent.
NAFTA was in effect until roughly one year ago after the Trump administration re-negotiated provisions of NAFTA with Canada and Mexico. The new agreement is known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The new agreement has resulted in less discussion about there being a ‘NAFTA 2.0,’ although there are still rumblings about it, and if it happens, Vicente Fox wants to see cannabis be a part of it.
“Cannabis has to be part of the trading between United States, Canada and Mexico,” Fox said in a recent interview according to Bloomberg. “Canada is an open market for cannabis, so, too is Mexico today. For the moment today for medical use, in September for recreational use.”
Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled in late 2018 that cannabis prohibition was unconstitutional, and tasked lawmakers with implementing the court’s ruling, including setting up a regulated adult-use market. After Mexico’s lawmakers missed several deadlines the Court recently stepped in and full legalization in Mexico will hopefully happen sooner rather than later.
Waiting On The United States
Canada legalized cannabis for adult use in late 2018 and in the process launched a regulated adult-use market. The only other country to do so is Uruguay, which did so years prior to Canada. Once Mexico’s regulated industry gets launched, the only country in a potential agreement that will still have federal prohibition in place will of course be the United States.
Momentum for nationwide legalization in the U.S. has picked up steam in recent years, however, a federal legalization bill has failed to pass in both chambers of Congress. Until that changes Vicente Fox and other current and former lawmakers in North America that are pro-cannabis will not get their wish to see a trilateral agreement that involves the free trade of cannabis between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S.
Medical cannabis is already legally flowing from Canada to other countries, and once Mexico’s legal cannabis industry gets up and running it will also start exporting cannabis to other countries. Legal cannabis already exists in the U.S. at the state level, although transporting cannabis across state lines is still prohibited. Hopefully that all changes soon and cannabis products can be shipped across national borders throughout North America.
Johnny Green is the Media and Content Director for the International Cannabis Business Conference. Upcoming conferences include Berlin (August 25-27), Zurich (August 31-September 1), and Barcelona (October 7).