Canada introduces legislation to legalize recreational marijuana

OTTAWA, April 13 (Reuters) - The Canadian government introduced legislation on Thursday that put the country on track to make recreational marijuana use legal by July 2018, with plans to regulate production but leave the oversight of retail sales up to the provinces.

The legislation put forward by the ruling Liberal party, which made legalizing recreational marijuana part of its successful 2015 election campaign, would set the minimum legal age for use and purchase at 18. Provinces would be able to raise the age.

SEE ALSO: Family claims teen was denied lung transplant because of pot use

Although recreational marijuana use has been legalized in some U.S. states, including Colorado and Washington, the legislation puts Canada on track to be the first Group of Seven country to legalize it nationally. Medical marijuana is already legal in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has argued that making marijuana legal will keep it out of the hands of underage users and reduce drug-related crime.

Provinces will be allowed to sell only cannabis produced by a licensed producer. In jurisdictions that do not put a regulated retail framework in place, Canadians would be able to purchase marijuana from regulated producers online.

Products will not be allowed to appeal to youth and packaging will need to be child-proof, the government said. Ottawa is studying whether plain packaging should be required, a government official told reporters.

The legislation will be reviewed in Parliamentary committees, where alterations could be made. But it is ultimately all but guaranteed to pass, as the Liberals have a majority in the House of Commons.

Marijuana legalization laws by state

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Marijuana legalization laws by state
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Marijuana legalization laws by state

Alabama: Medical use only, otherwise possession is a felony

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images)

Alaska: Marijuana legalized for medical and recreational use 

(Photo: Zoonar/N.Okhitin via Getty Images)

Arizona: Marijuana legalized for medical use

(Photo: Mikel Ortega via Getty Images)

Arkansas: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

California: Legal for medical and recreational use

(Getty)

Colorado: Legal for medical and recreational use  

(REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Connecticut: Decriminalized and legalized for medical use 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Delaware: Decriminalized

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Florida: Medical use only

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Georgia: Medical use only

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Hawaii: Medical use only

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Idaho: Not legal

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Illinois: Decriminalized

(Photo: VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm)

Indiana: Not legal

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Iowa: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

Kansas: Not legal

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Kentucky: Not legal

(Photo: Dorling Kindersley via Getty Images)

Louisiana: Medical use only

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Maine: Legal for medical and recreational use

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Maryland: Decriminalized

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Massachusetts: Legal

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Michigan: Medical use only

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Minnesota: Decriminalized

(Photo: Getty Images)

Mississippi: Decriminalized on first offense

(Photo: Getty Images)

Missouri: Not legal

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Montana: Medical use only

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images)

Nebraska: Decriminalized on first offense only

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Nevada: Legal

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New Hampshire: Medical use only

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New Jersey: Medical use only

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New Mexico: Medical use only

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New York: Decriminalized unless in public view

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

North Carolina: Decriminalized

(Photo: Getty Images)

North Dakota: Medical use only

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Ohio: Decriminalized

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Oklahoma: Medical use only

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Oregon: Legal for medical and recreational use

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Pennsylvania: Medical use only

(Photo: Henryk Sadura via Getty Images)

Rhode Island: Decriminalized

(Photo: Shutterstock)

South Carolina: Not legal

(Photo: Shutterstock)

South Dakota: Not legal

(Photo: Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images)

Tennessee: Medical use only

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Texas: Medical use only, decriminalized in Houston and Dallas

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Utah: Not legal 

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Vermont: Decriminalized

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Virginia: Not legal

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Washington: Legal for medical and recreational use

(Photo: Shutterstock)

West Virginia: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

Wisconsin: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

Wyoming: Not legal 

(Photo: Space Images via Getty Images)

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