Ukraine Advances Medical Cannabis Bill Despite Opposition

Ukranian flag and cannabis leaf

Ukraine's Legislative Leap: Medical Cannabis Bill Moves Forward

In a significant development in Ukraine's legislative landscape, a bill to legalize medical cannabis, initially approved by the country's unicameral legislature in December, is back on track. This advancement follows a brief snag caused by opposition from the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party and its leader, Yulia Tymoshenko.

Opposition's Attempt to Derail the Bill

The Batkivshchyna party's efforts to appeal to the Constitutional Court aimed to cancel the legislative vote, citing that the amendments to the bill were considered in a "half-empty chamber." Tymoshenko, a vocal opponent of the reform measure, argued that the bill would legalize "drug trafficking and the drug mafia" in Ukraine. Irina Herashchenko, co-chair of European Solidarity, also criticized the bill's focus on industrial production and the lack of clear rules around state regulation.

Parliamentary Victory for Medical Cannabis

This week, the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, unblocked the bill after the resolution to repeal it failed, securing only 25 of the required 226 votes. The bill was then formally sent to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's desk, who has publicly supported the measure.

Overcoming Legislative Hurdles

The Verkhovna Rada initially adopted the law on December 21, focusing on regulating "the circulation of cannabis plants for medical, industrial purposes, research, and scientific and technical activities." The law aims to expand patient access to necessary treatments for oncological diseases and post-traumatic stress disorders resulting from war. The Batkivshchyna's subsequent attempt to cancel the decision was thwarted when their draft resolution was rejected.

Previously, opponents tried to block the bill's progress by introducing almost 900 amendments, which critics dubbed "spam" amendments, in November.

Scope and Regulation of Ukraine's Medical Cannabis Legislation

The legislation seeks to license economic activity for hemp cultivation for medical, industrial, and scientific purposes. It specifically aims to assist Ukrainian war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and provide relief to those with cancer and other serious illnesses. The bill moves cannabis from being strictly prohibited to being available for medical use with prescription under List II of Ukraine's drug code.

Lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak emphasized that the distribution of cannabis for recreational use would remain a crime, and the production of cannabis medicines would be "strictly controlled" at all stages. Only those with an electronic medical cannabis prescription would be allowed to obtain cannabis-based medicines.

Health Ministry's Support and President Zelenskyy's Statement

The measure received backing from Ukraine's Health Ministry, which hailed it as a "historic decision." The Ministry thanked the medical community for the decision, acknowledging the importance of medical cannabis for millions, including cancer patients and those receiving palliative care.

In June 2023, President Zelenskyy emphasized the need for this reform, highlighting the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and the broader benefits for Ukrainians who may benefit from cannabis-based medicines. He stressed the application of the world's best practices and effective policies in Ukraine to alleviate the pain, stress, and trauma of war.

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Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

About the author:

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen is known for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of CBD and hemp production. With a career spanning over a decade in the cannabis industry, he has dedicated his life to understanding the intricacies of these plants and their potential benefits to human health and the environment. Over the years, Robin has worked tirelessly to promote the full legalization of hemp in Europe. His fascination with the plant's versatility and potential for sustainable production led him to pursue a career in the field.

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