Fox, whose successor Felipe Calderon is mired in a bloody military campaign against powerful drug cartels, criticized the government's anti-drugs strategy on his blog, joining the ranks of other Latin American leaders who say the war on drugs is fundamentally flawed.
"Legalization does not mean that drugs are good ... but we have to see (legalization of the production, sale and distribution of drugs) as a strategy to weaken and break the economic system that allows cartels to earn huge profits," Fox wrote in a posting over the weekend.
"Radical prohibition strategies have never worked."
Violence is escalating in Mexico, where cartels earn billions of dollars a year as they battle for lucrative routes smuggling cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs into the United States.
An estimated 28,000 people have died since late 2006, when Calderon sent soldiers and police across the country to battle drug gangs. The United States is funneling hundreds of millions of dollars into beefing up Mexico's ability to chase cartels.
Yet there are few signs Mexico has turned the corner on what may be the defining issue of Calderon's presidency. Many Mexicans now fear violence could deter business and investment, especially if it becomes more generalized.
"Although we know that many of the deaths are criminals killed by their rivals, unfortunately there are also officials, police and innocent people who have died," Fox said.
I have to agree with him. The costs of prohibition of all drugs to society is far greater than than the costs of legalization would ever be. Legalization would dramatically reduce the costs of drugs, ending the obscene profits the cartels enjoy. Without those profits, the incentive for gangs to fight and die ends. Some worry that legalization would increase the use of drugs such as cocaine and heroin. Perhaps there will be a small increase, but most people, knowing the dangers involved, would not start using just because of legalization. And if a few do, I don't care. A few more addicts, who choose to endanger themselves, is preferable that the damage caused by prohibition. Treatment on demand for addicts would be far cheaper, in both dollars and pain, that the continuation of prohibition.
America's War on Drugs has caused incalculable harm to Columbia, Peru and Mexico. It is time to realize that our approach is wrong and unjust.