People will have to apply for the pardons, but will no longer have to wait five years after a conviction or pay hundreds of dollars in fees, as they do now.
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His successor, premier-designate François Legault, has also promised to raise the legal age to 21, while all other jurisdictions have chosen a legal age of 18 or 19.
Medical marijuana has been legal since 2001 in Canada, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government has spent the past two years working toward legalizing recreational pot to better reflect society's changing opinion about marijuana and bring black market operators into a regulated system. Though several border states have legalised marijuana (or allow the use of medical marijuana), the border between Canada and the United States is, as my colleagues put it, "a thin marijuana militarised zone, where the drug will remain forbidden by federal law". In Alberta, a government website that sells pot crashed when too many people tried to place orders.
The announcement comes as Canada ushers in a new era of legal recreational cannabis use today.
The proposal is subject to approval by Parliament.
Once inside, customers can use the touchscreen computers or speak with one of the 25 cannabis consultants about which of the 85-odd marijuana strains they want to purchase.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has defended legalisation - the fulfilment of a 2015 campaign promise - as meant to protect young people and to shut down drug dealers.
The co-owner is not concerned with getting shut down, noting paperwork has been filed with the province in a bid to open a legal cannabis shop while his current store continues operations.
The federal government and many provinces have been cautious, starting with limited stores and products, including no edible pot for a year, and tight control over supply.
In total, Statistics Canada says 5.4 million Canadians will buy cannabis from legal dispensaries in 2018 - about 15 per cent of the population.
Uruguay was first was the first country to legalize marijuana.
"I think we can be a shining example to our neighbors to the south, there is a very dynamic legalization community down there", Marc-Boris St. Maurice said.
Among those waiting outside a Nova Scotia government cannabis shop in Sydney River, Nova Scotia, was Canadian fiddler and singer Ashley MacIsaac.
"When you buy cannabis it's not going to be like going to Amazon and having packages left at the door", Mulroney said earlier this week.
Canadian provinces and municipalities have been preparing for months for the end of cannabis prohibition. In August, Canada approved a device to detect levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element in cannabis, in a driver's saliva. "I mean, now we've heard of Canadians who, when they're crossing the border, if they get pulled aside for secondary inspection, they get follow-up questions and one of the questions can be 'Have you ever consumed pot?' And if you reply in the affirmative, even though it was maybe your college days decades ago, that could be grounds for you being prevented from crossing the border", Schmidt said.
"Prohibition has ended right now".
"I could say inside there it's very professional, they have everything laid out very well in the store", said Alexis Freeman outside Tweed's Osborne Village location. The 24-year-old said that by midday the line was taking about two hours, and that a lot of customers were taking their time once they made it inside so they could savor the historic moment. By mid-afternoon some products were sold out.