Justice

3 Ways That Canada Is Beating America on Marijuana

Canada and the U.S. might share a border, but the countries are worlds apart when it comes to marijuana policy. The latest developments from Canada's federal legalization plan reveals as much. Let's look at three ways that Canada is beating America on cannabis legalization:

1. There's a lot more support for marijuana legalization in Canada compared to America.

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Though an increasing number of American adults are in favor of marijuana legalization (61 percent, according to a 2016 poll from AP/NORC), a new survey of Canadians shows that our northern neighbors are even more supportive of reform efforts. Almost 70 percent of Canadians are in favor of legalization, CTV News reports.

2. Canada plans to legalize marijuana nationwide in 2017 and just announced the formation of a federal marijuana task force.

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Half of the states in America have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes, but federal legalization still seems like a distant dream for advocates. As it stands, marijuana is currently classified in the most restrictive federal drug category as a Schedule 1 drug and there's no telling if or when that might change.

Canada, meanwhile, is moving forward on plans to legalize nationwide next year. On Thursday, the Canadian government introduced a nine-member task force that will "advise the government on the design of the legislation and the regulatory framework that will include a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution," Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould said at a press conference.

3. The leaders of Canada and America have different approaches to marijuana policy.

President Barack Obama has made it perfectly clear that he doesn't want the federal government to interfere with state legalization efforts. But he's also been dismissive of the issue — urging young people to focus on other matters — and hasn't taken action to end marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau not only campaigned on a promise to legalize marijuana, but he kept his promise and continues to speak out about the importance of the reform policy. At an economic conference earlier this month, Trudeau said that legalization would not only benefit the country financially but also take money away from criminal organizations and make it harder for children to access the substance.

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From a global perspective, it's certainly true that both the U.S. and Canada stand out for their relatively liberal marijuana policies. In much of Europe, for example, marijuana use is largely prohibited and criminalized. But for advocates, these policy distinctions make all the difference. Canada is clearly ahead of America on marijuana.

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