Vicente Fox has made quite a post-presidential career for himself, but perhaps not in the way one might expect. The former Mexican President has had some choice words for U.S. President Donald Trump, but Fox has primarily delivered his messages vis-à-vis often hilarious and—parents be forewarned—profanity-filled videos and tweets.
While Fox has focused most of his rhetoric and defiant criticism on Trump’s much-promised, often overhyped border wall between Mexico and the U.S., Fox has saved some of his disdain for (current) U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions over another subject of historical friction between the two nations: Marijuana.
An Age-Old Antipathy: America and Marijuana
According to historian John Charles Chasteen, writing in the book “Getting High: Marijuana Through the Ages,” marijuana came to the U.S. from Mexico, brought both by United States troops returning from the border raids to capture Pancho Villa in the early 20th century, and simultaneously by Mexican laborers migrating north.
Many subsequent historians link the successful cannabis prohibition movement of the 1930s with the nakedly racist anti-Mexican sentiments of the time. That said, marijuana didn’t have an easy time of it back in Mexico, either; if you are curious about marijuana’s complicated back story there, we heartily recommend you read this fascinating excerpt of Chasteen’s book.
A New Marijuana Prohibition, or Seizing the Winds of Change?
In a fascinating twist, the debate that’s fueling Fox’s angry comments towards Sessions can be framed as a then-versus-now sort of face off. On the one hand, Sessions’ hardline stance against cannabis can be characterized as consistent with the age-old “morals” argument: Cannabis has no medical use and is a “corrupting” product. As of this writing, the Department of Justice is preparing to renew efforts to curtail cannabis here in the States.
On the other hand, Vicente Fox, addressing the National Cannabis Industry Association’s annual conference this past June, frames the debate as a trade issue: “This product cannabis has to be integrated into NAFTA,” Fox said. “It has to have the trade potential of moving without barriers, without taxes and limits, only complying with the law, the consumer and his health.”
Cannabis, it should be pointed out, only recently became legal for medical use in traditionally conservative Mexico, and is not yet legal for recreational use in Canada (though that’s expected to change shortly).
Cannabis: Will We Take a Step Forward or a Step Back?
Which side will win? Both nationally and globally, the wind is at cannabis’ back; industry observers expect legalization to continue on both fronts, though predicting decriminalization on the federal level here in the U.S. would be premature (particularly given the current political climate, including President Trump's inconsistent statements on cannabis and states' rights).
With the nation caught in a political balancing act—“conservatives” pitted against “progressives,” with ever-diminishing constructive dialogue between the two—it’s tempting to imagine cannabis potentially playing a role in reconciliation. After all, relief of chronic conditions like pain or insomnia isn’t dependant on a political point of view. And cannabis has a potentially significant role to play in the current healthcare debate. (Notably, a bipartisan Congressional Cannabis Caucus has emerged.)
It should go without saying—but, ah heck, we'll say it anyway— regardless of your political persuasion, aren't we all in favor of personal responsibility, the rights of individuals to make their own decisions, and access to this medically significant, recreationally enjoyable, all-natural plant?
And, of course, what is more American than freedom? If we want America to be great again, isn't it about time we make cannabis legal again?