Details still need to be worked out, the government said, including how cannabis will be taxed and how Canada's provinces will regulate the retail network in which the product will be sold.
It makes Canada "the largest federal jurisdiction in the world to legalize cannabis consumption", according to The Toronto Star.
The current legal prohibitions have been an "abject failure" at keeping the children from getting a hold of marijuana, says Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. Possession will be limited to 30 grams - one ounce - of dried or fresh marijuana.
"I know that the use of cannabis among our young people is among the highest in the world".
As well, the proposed legislation would add new offenses to the Criminal Code to enforce a zero tolerance approach for individuals caught driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.
The legislation, once passed, would allow police to use what she called "oral fluid screening devices" to check for marijuana impairment, while also creating brand new driving offences for those caught driving while impaired by pot. "Additionally, the proposed legislation would authorize new tools for police to better detect drivers who have drugs in their body". "Canadians, especially young Canadians, continue to face charges for something that will soon be legal", Alistair MacGregor, a lawmaker with the opposition New Democratic Party lawmaker, said this week.
Canada has been in "very close touch" with the US on the issue, said Goodale, but he had little to say about Canadians who might fear trouble from American border guards when travelling south.
"This must be an orderly transition and not a free-for-all". "This will not be a free-for-all".
Products will not be allowed to appeal to youth and packaging will need to be child-proof, the government said.
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And they can also craft their own cannabis products at home.
Tourists visiting the country will be allowed to smoke pot at their pleasure but rules banning the import and export of marijuana will remain in force.
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Ottawa will regulate production, including licensing producers and ensuring the safety of the country's marijuana supply, and the Canadian provinces will decide how the drug will be distributed and sold.
"Today's plan to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis will put an end to this", said Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice.
Almost 400,000 people a day cross the border between Canada and the US.
Although public opinion is generally supportive of cannabis legalization, Canada's medical profession has expressed concern about the dangers posed by setting too low a minimum legal age.
Granger Avery, a physician who is president of the Canadian Medical Association, had urged a minimum age of 21, and restrictions on marijuana potency until age 25, when the human brain typically is fully developed.
And those weren't the only stern words used in the new legislation.