By Theodore Mattheiss
The public’s attitude toward marijuana, both in the US and abroad, has come so far in recent times, and this developing trend has only been emphasized by a statement from former Mexican president Vicente Fox, who made the argument that pot should be included in the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
For those who don’t know, the agreement is between Mexico, the United States, and Canada, and creates a trilateral trade bloc across the North American continent.
The U.S. and Mexico, and maybe Canada, are currently in the process of renegotiating the NAFTA deal, and it’s left room for a lot of speculation about what changes the new deal will bring.
Fox believes that a free trade policy on marijuana between the three powerful nations should be one of those changes.
Mexico legalized marijuana for medical use in 2017, and some believe that recreational legalization is coming soon. In light of Canada’s recent full legalization of the drug, and the development of a strong canna-business in certain U.S. states as well, it’s not a crazy suggestion.
At least, not for the old reasons that would make it a crazy suggestion.
“We can change criminals for businessmen, we can change underground, illegal non-taxpayers into an industry, a sector of the economy,” Fox said in a statement to Bloomberg. “I think it should be part of NAFTA and that’s what I’m pursuing.”
Since all three nations have either legalized the drug already or have come close to doing so, it only makes sense to talk about marijuana’s place on a trade deal between them.
However, not everybody’s on board with the suggestion that marijuana should be part of NAFTA. Some believe that allowing marijuana to be imported into the U.S. from other countries will devastate the domestic weed growing industry that’s only just begun to form.
In a climate where many other forms of farming have already been outsourced, farmers across the country are relying on this plant to revive the profitability of their livelihood. This potential NAFTA agreement threatens that revival.
Jamie Warm of Henry’s Original, a cannabis company based in California, said to Huffington Post that “U.S. farming has collapsed as it has been outsourced everywhere. How is that fair? But cannabis is one crop that small farms have relied on for income.”
If the countries involved in NAFTA are allowed to move marijuana across their borders, the pot from Mexico, which is grown under fewer regulations and is cheaper than its American equivalent, will undercut our domestic marijuana industry and cause thousands of American jobs to evaporate.
Another issue facing the suggestion is the fact that marijuana remains federally illegal in the US, despite the regulations of various states within our country.
NAFTA is a federal trade deal, so in order for the government to consider including marijuana in it, the plant would first have to be federally legalized, which seems unlikely under the current administration.
Fox’s idea is a long shot, and would probably benefit Canada and Mexico much more than the U.S., even if it did manage to get included. (Fox sits on the board of Khiron Life Sciences Corp., a medical marijuana producer based in Vancouver, by the way.)
However, the fact that he feels comfortable making the suggestion at all is indicative of how close we’re coming to a green revolution in North America.