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Ukraine is legalizing medicinal marijuana to treat stress and cancer among war survivors

Updated: Dec 25, 2023

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Ukraine is legalizing medicinal cannabis to treat psychological trauma and stress-related diseases caused by Russia's war.

Parliament approved a bill on Thursday that would allow marijuana to be used for the "necessary treatment of oncological diseases and post-traumatic stress disorders."

The final tally saw 248 lawmakers voting for the resolution, with 16 votes against and 33 abstentions, according to the official website of the lawmaking body.

Some parliament members were missing or absent, per the count.

The proposal was debated and reviewed for over a year after its introduction on June 10, 2022, with about 800 amendment submissions since.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy now must sign the bill for it to come into effect, and lawmakers estimate patients can start receiving prescriptions in the second half of 2024.

Zelenskyy threw his support behind the push for legalization in an address to the nation on June 28.

"All the world's best practices, all the most effective policies, all the solutions, no matter how difficult or unusual they may seem to us, must be applied in Ukraine so that Ukrainians, all our citizens, do not have to endure the pain, stress, and trauma of war," Zelenskyy had said.

Under the new law, doctors can prescribe cannabis or drugs with cannabinoids, and entrepreneurs can obtain a license to grow hemp plants.

However, those businesses will be subject to 24-hour video surveillance with access given to the National Police.

Patients with cannabis prescriptions will also be permitted to enter or leave Ukraine with small amounts of the drugs.

The Health Ministry will determine details on the specific conditions and medicines permitted under the new law, the parliament website said.

Notably, it's still a crime in Ukraine to distribute marijuana for recreational use. However, support for medicinal marijuana in Ukraine's government has grown as the war progressed.

Maria Mezentseva, Ukrainian MP and deputy head of the committee overseeing Ukraine's bid to join the European Union, said more than 70% of people in the country supported legalizing cannabis for medical use.

More than 6 million patients, including civilians, soldiers, and cancer patients, require medicines that use cannabis, Mezentseva said in a statement.

Medicinal marijuana has been gradually accepted among various governments around the world. In the US, 38 states have legalized its use.


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