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PEORIA, Ariz. -- Former president of Mexico Vicente Fox, visiting the West Valley, said that legalizing marijuana in the United State could go long way toward crippling the drug cartels in his country.

Fox was visiting Thursday to talk about improving economic ties with Arizona and the need for comprehensive immigration reform. During a news conference in Peoria, Fox also addressed Mexico's violent drug war, which he said has killed 80,000 people.

Fox said legalizing pot in the U.S. would deprive the cartels of billions of dollars in annual drug profits.

"Wouldn't it much better to see that $50 (billion) or $100 billion in the hands of government and the business community?" he said. Fox has been in favor or legalizing marijuana in his country for several years.

Fox described the United States as a "prohibitionist nation" and said a shift is needed from regulation to a focus on education and prevention when it comes to marijuana.

"Kids will not go crazy because it's legal. They have the same access today by it being illegal. And it would be much better. Alcohol and cigarettes are much worse than marijuana. Alcohol and cigarettes killed many more people."

Fox pointed out that it is not a crime to consume drugs in Mexico, but it's jail time for those who produce and distribute drugs.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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