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Medical cannabis bill passes first reading in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada

Cannabis medical Ukraine
Credit: Depositphotos
Medical cannabis bill passes first reading in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada
After years of debate, the Ukrainian parliament passed in the first reading a bill on the legalization of medical cannabis. If it passes the second reading, patients with cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder will have access to this treatment.

The draft law 7457 was voted in favor by 268 MPs, out of 405, MP Yaroslav Zhelezniak said.

This approval follows a lengthy debate in Ukrainian society over the legalization of medical cannabis, which refers to a wide range of cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had promised to make the step in 2019 but had later rolled back on the pledge, likely due to worries to his ratings because of the controversial issue.

However, in 2023, Zelenskyy spoke out in support of legalizing medical cannabis in Ukraine.

“All the world’s best practices, and solutions, no matter how complicated or unusual they may be, should be applied in Ukraine so that all Ukrainian citizens do not have to endure the pain, stress, and trauma of war. In particular, we must finally honestly legalize cannabis-based medicines for all who need it,” the President said in a speech to the Verkhovna Rada on 28 June.

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If this bill is finally approved, Ukraine will start using medical cannabis for patients with cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder, which is especially important during and after the war period for people with physical and mental trauma.

The Ministry of Health of Ukraine has repeatedly called on the parliament to adopt this decision, as it will bring Ukraine closer to the European healthcare system.

Earlier, Ukrainians organized a flashmob in social networks, where they talked about the need for medical cannabis for patients and military personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, the step had its critics, as well. MP Dmytro Razumkov claims the government could easily manage the issue, while warning the proposed law could birth a new corruption scheme through the cultivation and circulation of cannabis for medicinal, industrial, and recreational purposes.

An advocacy group, Patients of Ukraine, countered Razumkov, insisting government solutions have failed to make expensive foreign medicines available in Ukraine. They argue that the high cost of these drugs and the small market discourage manufacturers from registering in Ukraine, and highlight the instability of government regulations due to potential leadership changes.

Ukrainian churches have also united in opposition to the legalization of cannabis. The All-Ukrainian Council of Churches appeals to officials not to allow the legalization of cannabinoid narcotic substances under the guise of PTSD treatment, insisting that designating a narcotic as a medical treatment does not make it safe.

 

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