In his career, Vicente Fox has gone from selling soft drinks to selling political change to selling the merits of legalizing cannabis. Prior to serving as Mexico’s 55th president from 2000 to 2006, Fox had been an executive for the Coca-Cola Co. An advocate for cannabis legalization, which Mexico has been moving toward, Fox now sits on the boards of directors of cannabis-culture magazine High Times and Khiron Life Sciences Corp., a Canadian-headquartered marijuana company that is focusing on Latin American markets. The Financial Post’s Geoff Zochodne caught up with him Thursday in Toronto, where he was promoting the CannaMexico World Summit, an upcoming cannabis conference. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
A lot of politicians have been getting into the cannabis industry and advocacy. How did you came to be in that same sphere?
Ten years ago … I started gaining a lot more interest to participate, to promote legalization. That was my first challenge. And I did it because I wanted to bring peace, harmony to Mexico on this war on drugs. I thought since then, that this could be a way out, or at least that it would soften the violence of this war in Mexico. Later on, I also learned that this can be a pragmatic change. That this industry can become a new dynamic industry, creating jobs and creating wealth, which I have witnessed that it happens.
Do you think that this year we’re going to see full legalization in Mexico?
Yes, sir. Before my birthday, my 77th birthday, July the 2nd, I’m sure the whole enchilada will be there in Mexico. Approval for medical use, approval for recreational use.
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So how do you see the Mexican cannabis industry shaping up?
No. 1, the process has to finalize. Right now, we’re expecting the regulation for medical use. It should happen any day. And, before July the 2nd, the recreational use. We already see strong, emerging forces, economic forces, in Mexico. Entrepreneurs, innovators, big businesses, big investors, everybody is now somewhere, and they know it’s coming and they’re ready to go.
What do you think of the progress that’s been made here so far on cannabis legalization?
It’s incredible what has happened in months. The increase in production is incredible. The amount that is being produced today is incredible. The flow of money, not only to investment, but to research, to development of new products, to innovation, to conforming corporations. This industry in 10 years is doing what the Coca Cola Co. did in 100 years.
Do you think that the government of new Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is going to ratify the new NAFTA?
Yes. This government in a way is contradictory, and one side is extremely populist on what they say is their social commitment and responsibility, but they don’t know anything about running an economy and running it correctly. But they know that to give away, they need to produce. So for the moment, they’ve been behaving quite well for the markets, for the market economy, for the fundamentals of the Mexican economy, and I hope that it stays there and then we can come along.
Do you think the steel and aluminum tariffs that U.S. President Donald Trump put on Mexico and Canada need to be removed before there is ratification?
Mexico will go for it the way it has been approved. The only thing that affected the Mexican side is this idea to increase wages and salaries, which is good for Mexico and I’m for it. I think the rest is a good agreement and it’s been very good for Mexico this first 25 years. It’s going to be better this next 25 years, same as it’s been good for Canada and it’s been good for the United States. The only blind guy in the world that doesn’t see that is this guy Trump. He doesn’t understand what macroeconomics is about. He doesn’t even understand business. He’s a lousy businessman. And he unfortunately is an obstacle to the development of America, of the United States.
You’ve been a critic of President Trump, and you’ve said things like you’re not going to pay for that, I think the quote was, “f***ing wall”
F***ing wall, yes. And that has happened. We’re not paying for that f***ing wall. We will not pay for that f***ing wall. And now he’s trapped … because not only is Mexico not paying for the wall, but Congress and Democrats are not accepting to put in the budget the wall. So now he doesn’t have a way out.