Recreational marijuana will be legal across Canada by July 1, 2018, a senior government official says. 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has long promised to legalize recreational pot and its sales, and it appears he is making good on that promise. His liberal government introduced legislation the week of April 10 to begin the process.
The move would make Canada the largest developed country to end nationwide marijuana prohibition. Uruguay in South America is the only other nation to legalize recreational pot.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould would not confirm the dates, but said in a statement that the government is committed to introducing legislation this spring that would “legalize, strictly regulate, and restrict access to cannabis.”
“This will be done in a careful way to keep it out of the hands of children and youth, and to stop criminals from profiting. In order to meet our commitment to legalize, the legislation will need to pass through the parliamentary process in a timely fashion.”
A marijuana task force has recommended adults be permitted to carry 30 grams of pot for recreational use and to grow up to 4 plants. It also recommends that higher-potency weed be taxed at a higher rate than weaker strains.
Additionally, the task force says recreational pot should not be sold in the same location as alcohol or tobacco. Under the task force proposals, Canada could see alcohol-free cannabis lounges opening around the country.
A panel report notes that health experts recommend a minimum age of 21 because the human brain is not finished developing until age 25.
There is some evidence to suggest that people who use marijuana before age 16 may have stunted brain development in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for judgement, reasoning, and complex thinking. MRIs show that people who start using after age 16 have brain changes that would normally manifest in older age.  
However, the panel report states that the task force believes setting the minimum age too high would preserve the black market. The minimum age in Ottawa has already been set at 18. 
The panel further recommends that marijuana advertising be heavily restricted like tobacco advertising. 
The news has been welcomed by pro-marijuana advocates, especially after recent raids of illegal storefront dispensaries in several Canadian cities led to charges, seizures, and the closure of dozens of businesses. Last year in Toronto, “Project Claudia,” a police operation, saw the arrest of 90 people at 43 dispensaries and 269 kilograms of marijuana seized. 
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Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.