Marijuana should be added to the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that’s currently being negotiated in Washington, D.C., says former Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Vicente Fox expects Mexico’s government will fully legalize recreational marijuana in 2019.

Fox, who currently sits on the Board of Directors of Toronto-based medical marijuana producer Khiron Life Sciences Corp., said he expects that Mexico’s government will fully legalize recreational marijuana next year, and that with the drug legal in both Canada and Mexico, it makes sense to add it to the list of duty-free goods under NAFTA. Mexico legalized medical marijuana in 2017.

Fox has long advocated for legal marijuana and cannabis, arguing that it will help defeat the cartel violence that has plagued Mexico for years and caused tension with the US, whose politicians have accused Mexico of flooding their country with both hard and soft drugs.

“We can change criminals for businessmen, we can change underground, illegal non-taxpayers into an industry, a sector of the economy,” he said Thursday in Toronto, where he was attending a board meeting at Khiron. “I think it should be part of NAFTA and that’s what I’m pursuing.”

If marijuana were to be added to NAFTA, Mexico could quickly become a major exporter of legal marijuana and cannabis products to the US and Canadian markets, Fox added.

“On vegetables, on fruits, on avocados, Mexico produces and provides up to 70% of the US and Canadian market so we are efficient in producing, we’re efficient in farming and we’re low-cost and competitive,” he said.

Adding a recreational drug such as marijuana to a revamped NAFTA is a long shot given that the drug remains illegal at the federal level in the US. Federal politicians in Washington, D.C. have been vocal about keeping marijuana illegal even though a growing number of US states are moving to legalize its use.

Also, the current NAFTA trade talks have proven to be fractious and difficult. Canadian trade officials are currently huddled in negotiations with their US counterparts to revise NAFTA after the US and Mexico signed a preliminary deal on August 27.

Issues of contention at the negotiating table include the trade in automotive parts, a proposed sunset clause that would see NAFTA expire after five years unless renewed, and US demands that the trade agreement’s dispute resolution system be scrapped. Adding marijuana to the talks at this point would likely further complicate matters.

The opinions provided in this article are those of the author and do not constitute investment advice. Readers should assume that the author and/or employees of Grizzle hold positions in the company or companies mentioned in the article. For more information, please see our Content Disclaimer.