Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau waves on stage in Montreal after winning the general elections on Oct. 20, 2015. Trudeau's government will introduce legislation the week of April 10 to legalize marijuana by July 1, 2018, according to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (Nicholas Kamm, AFP/Getty Images)

Report: Canada to legalize marijuana by July 2018

David Taylor, a spokesman for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, declined to comment on the reported timelines. He reiterated a government pledge to unveil a proposed law by spring

The frenzy surrounding Canada’s marijuana market intensified Monday after a report the government will unveil plans to legalize sales for recreational use in April.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government will introduce legislation the week of April 10 to legalize marijuana by July 1, 2018, according to a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. David Taylor, a spokesman for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, declined to comment on the reported timelines. He reiterated a government pledge to unveil a proposed law by spring.

Shares of Canopy Growth Corp., the first Canadian company with a market value of C$1 billion, making it a marijuana unicorn, rose as much as 11 percent intraday in Toronto, the biggest gain since November 2016. Aurora Cannabis Inc. gained as much as 11 percent, Aphria Inc. rose 6.5 percent, and OrganiGram Holdings Inc. jumped 10 percent.

The value of Canada’s pot stocks have soared amid investor optimism that recreational sales, which Canaccord Genunity Group Inc. said in November could reach C$6 billion in sales annually by 2021, may start as early as 2018. Canopy Growth has seen its share price rise more than 300 percent in the past 12 months, while Aurora has climbed more than 400 percent.

In December, the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation issued a report that recommends the Canadian government regulate the production of marijuana while the provinces control distribution and retail sales.

With assistance from Josh Wingrove