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TORONTO (AP) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government introduced legislation Thursday to let adult possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in public – a measure that would make Canada the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on recreational marijuana.
Trudeau has long promised to legalize recreational pot use and sales. US voters in California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada voted last year to approve the use of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska.
The South American nation of Uruguay is the only nation to legalize recreational pot.
The proposed law allows four plants to be grown at home. Those under 18 found with less than five grams of marijuana would not face criminal charges but those who sell it or give to youth could face up to 14 years in jail.
“It’s too easy for our kids to get marijuana. We’re going to change that,” Trudeau said.
Officials said Canadians should be able to smoke marijuana legally by July 1, 2018. The legislation must still be approved by Parliament but with Trudeau’s Liberal party holding a majority its passage in considered assured.
The federal government set the age at 18, but is allowing each of Canada’s provinces to determine if it should be higher. The provinces will also decide how the drug will be distributed and sold. The law also defines the amount of THC in a driver’s blood, as detected by a roadside saliva test, that would be illegal. Marijuana taxes will be announced at a later date.