A cash register is adorned with a Canadian flag and imitation marijuana leaves at the BC Marijuana Party Headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbia in February 2010.

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

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.