As Mexico drowns in drug-related bloodshed — suffering almost 12,000 murders in 2010 — it is perhaps unsurprising that government critics have turned up their screaming that the war on drugs isn’t working. But it was a bit of a bombshell when former President Vicente Fox added his voice to the chorus. The cowboy-boot-wearing leader, who ruled Mexico from 2000 to 2006, once declared the “mother of all battles” against crime and rounded up drug kingpins. But before he left office, he witnessed the first big spike in violence as the narcos retaliated. Last August, evidence surfaced that his vision had changed when he wrote on his blog that prohibition wasn’t working. Now, in an interview with TIME in his hometown in central Mexico, he says his views have indeed moved toward the other end of the spectrum: favoring full-on legalization of the production, transit and sale of prohibited drugs. Fox is most explicit about marijuana but says the principle applies to all illegal drugs.
What would happen? Portugal shows us the way: