A bill to legalise medical cannabis in Ukraine has advanced to the next stage of the legislative process this week, bringing patients one step closer to ‘relief’.
Following its initial reading, in July Ukrainian politicians voted to adopt the bill which will see the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.
On Tuesday 10 October, the proposed legislation was finalised and approved by the National Health, Medical Care and Health Insurance Committee, meaning it will now proceed to a second reading in the Verkhovna Rada [parliament].
According to a press statement from the Ministry of Health, more than 800 amendments were made before the committee agreed to advance the bill to the next – and final – stages.
The bill proposes to create regulatory conditions for the legal limited circulation of cannabis, cannabis resin, cannabis extracts and tinctures for their use in medical, industrial and scientific purposes.
It will see doctors permitted to prescribe cannabis-based medicines for conditions including cancer, PTSD and ‘many other diseases’.
According to the draft law, cannabis-based drugs will be subject to the same ‘strict controls as other narcotic and psychotropic drugs’. Products must be made from cannabis grown for medicinal purposes in Ukraine, or from imported cannabis plant substance, and may only be prescribed by a doctor, in accordance with ‘medical indications’.
Relief from the trauma of war
The country has endured ongoing conflict since Russia invaded in February 2022, with the Ministry of Health previously estimating that around four million people will experience not only PTSD, but other mental health issues, brought on by the trauma.
Both the Health Minister, Viktor Liashko, and President Zelenskyy have expressed their support for the bill, urging MPs to legalise medical cannabis to help the country recover from the ‘trauma of war’.
In a statement on Wednesday (11 October), Liashko said: “The draft law No. 7457 will make it possible to realise the right of every patient to medical care, relieve the pain and suffering of millions of people, and improve the quality of life for many diseases and conditions. At the same time, it is only about the medical and not the recreational use of cannabis-based drugs. The same strict control will be applied to them as to narcotic and psychotropic drugs.
“Thanks to the entry by all subjects of all transactions involving the movement of hemp and its products at all stages of circulation into the electronic information system, the state will control the complete life cycle of the plant: from the seed to reaching the patient.”
“War continues to kill us – even when we return home”
Activists have been campaigning for the legalisation of medical cannabis in Ukraine for a number of years and two previous bills failed to make it through the Rada.
Speaking to Cannabis Health following the success of the initial vote in July, Iryna Rachynska from Patients of Ukraine, said: “In Ukraine there are millions of people who suffer from the consequences of the war. We already have hundreds of thousands of amputees. The number of people with PTSD is increasing and the Ministry of Health officially claims that four million people will be in need of medical treatment for their psychological conditions. These are people who lost their families and homes, who have witnessed terrible war events, who have war trauma themselves. War continues to kill us even when we return home.
“In addition, in Ukraine there are two million patients with severe diseases who have been in need of medical cannabis before full-scale war. We now have six million people in urgent need of these drugs.”
A date has not yet been announced for the next reading.
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