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Today, Canada becomes the first industrialized nation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Two decades after medical marijuana was legalized, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes good on one of his more progressive campaign promises: to legalize recreational use with the hopes of reducing related crime and underage usage. Canada is the only country other than Uruguay that allows recreational use nationwide.
It is a new industry with the potential for big growth, and Canada has now positioned itself to be the largest global marketplace for cannabis and cannabis-related products. Several cannabis companies have already started to go public with IPOs, providing investors with new opportunities. Major retailers such as Walmart Canada and several beverage companies are seeking ways to integrate these new offerings into their own product lines.
Canadians from coast to coast celebrate as this growing industry goes mainstream. The following are some of the scenes on this historic day.
A resident smokes a joint while exiting a photo booth during a "Wake 'N Bake" event in Toronto, Ontario.
Torontonians gather at a concert venue to watch the "bud drop" at the stroke of midnight, in celebration of the legalization of recreational cannabis.
People wait in line to enter a cannabis store in Montreal, Quebec.
Boxes of pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes sit stacked at a Quebec Cannabis Society (SQDC) store during a media preview event in Montreal the day before cannabis became legal. The SQDC opened 12 stores in Montreal on Oct. 17.
Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton poses for a photo with customers Ian Power and Nikki Rose, who were first in line to purchase legal recreational marijuana after midnight, at a Tweed retail store in St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
Residents pose for a selfie while smoking a joint during a "Wake 'N Bake" event in Toronto.
A sign warns travelers about crossing international borders with cannabis at the Ottawa International Airport in Ottawa, Ontario. The United States still has strict laws and regulations regarding cannabis possession, so travelers should beware.
Bill MacDonald, program coordinator of the new Commercial Cannabis Production Program at Niagara College, instructs his students inside the marijuana lab in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario.
Cannabis items for sale are seen on Oct. 16 in a Montreal cannabis store owned by the SQDC.
Employee Martin Henderson walks past growing plants at Up's cannabis factory in Lincoln, Ontario.
A customer holding a cannabis product gestures while leaving the Natural Vibe store in St. John's after legal recreational marijuana went on sale in Canada.