By Gene Johnson, Associated Press

More than two dozen countries have relaxed their cannabis or other drug laws, and a number could consider legalizing in the not-too-distant future.

The South American nation of Uruguay was first to legalize marijuana in 2013. Canada became the second on Oct. 17, 2018, and its size and global standing likely will encourage others to follow. Here’s a look at other nations that could be influenced by Canada’s legalization:

New Zealand

The government announced in late 2017 that medical cannabis would be allowed, and the country is due to hold a national referendum by 2020 on whether to legalize and regulate adult-use marijuana. The exact language and scope of the referendum question remain unclear.

“That they’ve agreed to have a referendum shows how far the debate has come in New Zealand,” said Steve Rolles, a senior policy analyst at Transform, a global drug law reform organization based in England. “And the fact they have a model in Canada — a country they have good relations with, that they’re quite similar to culturally — can only help the reform cause.”

For now, recreational cannabis remains illegal, with possible penalties ranging from a $500 fine ($327.46 U.S. dollars as of

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