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Can The 2016 American Election Derail Marijuana Legalization In Canada?

As Canada's closest ally and trading partner, America has a lot of influence over its northern neighbor's position on issues like foreign policy, national defense, and even marijuana law. When the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien considered decriminalizing marijuana in 2003, the Bush Administration pressured Canada to uphold prohibition.

Chrétien's plans to reform Canada's drug laws fell apart for different reasons. But the incident raises the question: if anti-legalization candidates Donald Trump, Texas Senator Ted Cruz or Ohio Governor John Kasich become president, could they successfully pressure Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to drop marijuana legalization from his government's agenda?

No, according to Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches--East York), who was asked that question by 420 Radio's Russ Belville during an April 6 teleconference held by David Borden of Stop the Drug War and Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority.

"We made a promise in the [2015 federal] election," said Erskine-Smith. "We're committed to keeping that promise [to legalize marijuana]. And keeping that promise will have nothing to do with the outcome of the American election."

By his own admission, Erskine-Smith isn't in the Liberal cabinet, so he isn't a decision-maker on the level of other federal ministers working on this file. That said, he has represented Canada's position on marijuana at international events, and he is actively pressing the senior members of his own government to take action on the marijuana file. So his opinion isn't inconsequential either.

Mexico doubts the Americans will interfere

But what about America's other direct neighbor, Mexico, which is also mulling over marijuana legalization? During the same teleconference, Mexican Senator Laura Angélica Rojas Hernández said Mexico will pursue legalization regardless of who becomes president in 2016.

She also doubts Trump or his rivals would interfere with legalization in America, let alone other countries, because the states themselves have been taking the lead on this file.

"[It's) the states have been the ones making the decision of legalization of uses of marijuana for recreational or medical purposes," she said.


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