Ukraine legalises medicinal cannabis

Ukraine has legalised medicinal cannabis with the backing of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, amid concerns of rising mental ill-health.
Ukraine legalises medicinal cannabis

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a new law to legalise medicinal cannabis.

The prescription-only treatment will be available to those diagnosed with cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It comes nearly two years after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

Growers will need formal approval from Ukrainian authorities to legally produce cannabis under 24-hour video surveillance accessible to police.

It will remain illegal to use cannabis for recreational purposes in Ukraine.

Ukraine legalises medicinal cannabis

A person who experiences or witnesses a distressing event can develop PTSD. Symptoms include anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. It is particularly prevalent in war-impacted regions.

A recent study analysed the mental health impacts of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. About one-quarter of the study’s 2000 respondents showed symptoms of PTSD. Over a third said they’d lost someone close to them since the war began.

The majority of respondents had lost jobs and said they had witnessed bombing attacks or destruction of local buildings.

Zelenskyy’s support for legalising cannabis

President Zelenskyy called for cannabis-based medicines to be legalised to support treatments for those impacted by the war.

During an address on Ukraine’s national holiday in June last year, Zelenskyy said: “All the most effective policies… no matter how difficult or unusual they may seem to us, must be applied… so that Ukrainians, all our citizens do not have to endure the pain, stress, and trauma of war.”

Opposition to legalising cannabis

Draft laws to legalise medicinal cannabis were blocked by Ukraine’s Opposition, led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, last year.

Tymoshenko argued the reforms would lead to increased recreational drug use.

Parliament voted to move forward with the legislation, which eventually passed with support from a majority of lawmakers. The reforms come into effect in July.

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