The conservative leader who intensified the battle against drug traffickers during his 2000-2006 term as president of Mexico urged his country's Congress to seriously consider a proposal to legalize marijuana.

"I hope Congress doesn't send the bill to the deep freeze but rather debates it," Vicente Fox said at the start of a conference on his ranch in the central state of Guanajuato, alluding to center-left congressman Fernando Belauzaran's bill to end the legal sanctions on pot.

The U.S.-Mexico Symposium on the Legalization and Medical Use of Cannabis, taking place this week at Fox's spread, was organized by his Centro Fox organization and former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively.

"As part of the legalization, the government will have to keep enforcing the law, it will have to keep pursuing criminals, it will have to continue pursuing all who break the law," Fox said at the conference in his inaugural address.

Fox has spoken out in recent years at a variety of forums for the legalization of drugs, especially marijuana, as "a necessary measure" to finally put an end to a drug war that has claimed at least 100,000 lives in Mexico in the last decade.

At a June 5 meeting with reporters to announce this week's symposium, Fox said he would grow marijuana on his land if it was legal.

"Once it is legitimate and legal, sure. I am a farmer, I can do it the day it's legitimate and legal, and it is approved as an industry. Producers of all kinds can participate," Fox said. 

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