Cannabis should be added to the North American Free Trade Agreement just like any other form of produce, says former Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Fox, who sits on the board of Vancouver-based medical marijuana producer Khiron Life Sciences Corp., said he expects Mexico’s new government to legalize recreational cannabis in 2019. The country legalized medical pot in 2017.

Fox has long advocated for legal cannabis, arguing that it will help defeat the cartel violence that has plagued Mexico for years.

“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 an interview in Toronto, where he met with Khiron’s board. “I think it should be part of NAFTA and that’s what I’m pursuing.”

If that happens, Mexico could become a major exporter of legal cannabis to the U.S. and Canadian markets, Fox said.

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

Canada is currently locked in negotiations on revamping NAFTA after the U.S. and Mexico signed a preliminary deal on Monday.

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