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Momentum for marijuana builds across North America

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

American allies might become American buds as Canada and Mexico move toward marijuana legalization.

Jane Philpott, the Canadian health minister, announced plans to introduce legislation that would legalize marijuana next spring, according to Buzzfeed.

Before the 2015 Canadian election, the Liberal Party promised to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.” It appears they’re following through, or opening a debate to devise what’s politically viable.

“Drug use and drug-related crime are both significant public health and safety issues in Canada and abroad. They have wide-ranging impacts on individuals, families and communities at large,” Philpott said in a statement. “These complex issues require a comprehensive approach that balances support for the health and well-being of those affected by drug use and addiction with law enforcement.”

If the push is successful, Canada will join four states and the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational marijuana. For medical marijuana, 24 states have legalized it.

In Mexico, legalization will focus on medical marijuana, though it will also allow up to one ounce for personal recreational use, according to Buzzfeed.

“The move comes as a drug debate sweeps across Latin America,” Karla Zabludovsky wrote.

If Mexico embraces greater legalization, it could dramatically reduce corruption and civilian deaths. More than 164,000 people died between 2007 and 2014 in connection with the country’s fight against drug cartels, according to Frontline.

World leaders have increasingly turned against the war on drugs as it has failed to stem the availability and safety of drugs. World leaders have embraced the call for reform, with more than 1,000 signing an opposition letter.

“Globally, we’re wasting too much money and precious resources on criminalizing people and sending them to jail when we should be spending this money on helping people – through proper medical care and education,” Entrepreneur Richard Branson wrote. “From the perspective of an investor, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were one of my businesses, I would have shut it down many, many years ago.”

Before either country acts on marijuana legislation, the United States could eclipse them. For the November election, 20 states will have ballot initiatives to legalize medical or recreational marijuana. To change the traditional approach to drug use, North America might blaze a path forward in a surprisingly short timespan.

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