Canada sets October start for legal marijuana sales

 Canada sets October start for legal marijuana sales

By Nichola Saminather

TORONTO (Reuters) - Cannabis sales will become legal in Canada from October 17, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, making it the first major economy to legalize recreational use or marijuana.

Canadian marijuana stocks, which have rallied in anticipation of legalization, extended gains on Wednesday after the Senate voted on Tuesday to approve adult use of cannabis. The governor general is expected to sign the bill on Thursday, the final step for it to become law.

The government previously said marijuana would become legal within eight to 12 weeks of the law being passed.

"We've listened to the provinces, which have been asking us for more time to implement it," Trudeau said.

Shares of Canopy Growth Corp , Canada's biggest marijuana producer by market value, closed up 6.7 percent C$45.36 in Toronto.

Shares of Aurora Cannabis Inc , its second biggest producer, ended up 4.7 percent at C$9.99, while Aphria Inc , the third-largest, rose 4.2 percent.

The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF ended 3.6 percent higher at C$19.64.

"This is a historic milestone for our industry and for our country ... as Canada solidifies its progressive leadership on cannabis," Vic Neufeld, chief executive officer of Aphria, said in an e-mailed statement.

Trudeau's Liberals had made legalizing recreational use of marijuana part of their successful 2015 election campaign.

Canada's regulatory rollout will be closely watched by other countries and by investors, who have already poured billions into Canadian marijuana companies.

Shares of some of these companies have seen moderate gains over the past year on concerns that they had become overvalued, delays to legislation that was originally expected to take effect by July, and strict rules around supply and branding.

A report by the Conference Board of Canada released on Tuesday showed that more than half of Canadian employers are concerned about the potential use of marijuana in the workplace.

A bill related to impaired driving and the use of marijuana is working its way through the parliamentary process.

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Additional reporting by Danya Hajjaji and David Ljunggren; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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Updated Date: Jun 21, 2018 03:05:43 IST