Ukraine may legalize medical cannabis this month for the benefit of millions of citizens.
A bill is awaiting approval in the Ukrainian parliament that would legalize the use of cannabis to treat medical conditions (1). In July 2023, a preliminary version of bill #7457 was approved with 268 votes out of the 450 member Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada (2). More than 800 amendments have been submitted by lawmakers since then (1). A final debate on the bill in the parliament’s next session may happen sometime this month (2). If approved, cannabis for medical purposes would be moved from List 1 to List 2 (drugs that are permitted but strictly controlled), though recreational use would not be allowed (1,2). The cultivation and production of the cannabis will be controlled by the National Police, and patients could begin to access the medications six months after the bill is made law (1).
Earlier this year, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky voiced his support for the use of medical cannabis to treat the mental health of soldiers and citizens (3). “For our citizens to endure the pain, stress and trauma of the war, we must finally justifiably legalize treatment based on medical cannabis for everyone who needs it,” Zelensky stated (2).
Veterans who participated in the war against Russia are expected to make up approximately 10% of Ukraine's population (2). Other estimates suggest that the number of people who could need medical cannabis for a variety of conditions including trauma and epilepsy may reach 7 million (1).
“[The bill] is especially important now, when our country is in an active phase of the war, to relieve pain from combat injuries and to improve psychological conditions at a time when lots of Ukrainians are stressed,” stated Olga Stefanyshyna, a member of parliament’s health committee (2). A 2021 bill to legalize medical cannabis received approval in 2022, but efforts had been stalled until recently. (3).