A woman waves a cannabis-centric Canadian flag at a gathering on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 20, 2016. (Chris Roussakis, AFP/Getty Images)

Canada sets its path toward national marijuana legalization

UNITED NATIONS — Canada’s health minister says legislation to legalize marijuana will be introduced next spring.

Jane Philpott told the United Nations at a special session on drugs at the General Assembly in New York on Wednesday that Canada’s approach to legalization will ensure marijuana is kept out children’s hands, and will address the devastating consequences of drugs and drug-related crimes.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned last year on a promise to legalize and regulate recreational use of marijuana.

Trudeau has said legalizing marijuana would fix a “failed system” and help remove the “criminal element” linked to the drug. He also has said Canadians would benefit from analyzing the experiences of Colorado and Washington state.

Philpott’s address happened to coincide with 4/20, the annual day of celebration for cannabis culture lovers.

“I am proud to stand up for drug policy that is informed by solid scientific evidence and uses a lens of public health to maximize education and minimize harm … In Canada, we will apply these principles with regard to marijuana … While this plan challenges the status quo in many countries, we are convinced it is the best way to protect our youth while enhancing public safety.” — Click through for the full text of Philpott’s speech at the UN.