Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said on Wednesday that it is time to legalize the production of opium poppy to end bloody turf battles fought by drug cartels in various parts of the country.
Fox, who advocated for the legalization of marijuana during his presidency from 2000-2006, made the proposal during a news conference to announce the cannabis forum – CannaMexico World Summit – in Mexico City scheduled to take place on April 11, Reuters reported.
He said it is “good to mention poppy,” leave “taboos and vices,” and “confront” what he described “something that can turn into a paradigmatic change in our country.”
The ex-leader said the “carnage” in the Mexican state of Guerrero, known for its tourism, is facing “destruction” due to rival drug gangs warring between each other.
“That destruction of our most wonderful tourist port right now. It’s enough to say, ‘Let’s legalize the production of opium poppy,’ and afterward, regulate its consequences and regulate whatever happens. The plants themselves are not harmful,” he said.
Fox, who served with the center-right National Action Party but has since distanced himself from the party, argued that drug legalization would curtail cartel profits and boost safety.
Guerrero, located along Mexico’s southwestern Pacific coast, is home to numerous poppy fields used to produce opium, the main ingredient in heroin.
So far, Guerrero’s iconic beach resort of Acapulco had been ravaged by gangland violence over the past few years.
Last year, more than 25,000 murders were recorded in Mexico as rival drug gangs increasingly splintered into smaller, more brutal groups after more than a decade of a military-led campaign to battle the cartels.