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Ukraine Makes Progress in Medical Cannabis Legalization but Faces Setback from Opposition

The topic of medical cannabis legalization in Ukraine is a contentious issue that has been met with both support and opposition. In December, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill that would legalize medical cannabis for use in treating various health conditions.

However, this milestone moment has been met with opposition from the country’s Batkivshchyna parliamentary faction, who have blocked the bill from being signed into law. This unexpected turn of events has caused controversy and uncertainty surrounding the future of medical cannabis legalization in Ukraine.

Ukraine Lawmakers Pass Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill

Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, or parliament, passed the Medical Cannabis Legalization Bill by an overwhelming majority of 248 votes. It marked a significant step forward for patients in Ukraine who have been advocating for access to medical cannabis for years.

The bill outlined by Mykhailo Radutsky, chairman of the Standing Committee on National Health, Medical Aid, and Medical Insurance, via the KyivPost includes several key points that will greatly impact the availability and usage of medical cannabis in Ukraine.

Firstly, the legislation will require the government to move medical cannabis from List 1 (drugs not permitted for circulation) to List 2 (permitted under strict control). This shift in classification will allow for easier accessibility to medical cannabis for patients in need.

In addition, the bill outlines specific guidelines for laboratory control of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which will be exclusively conducted at specialized laboratories. These include laboratories run by the Interior and Justice Ministries, the Security Service, the State Border Service, and the State Medicine Service. This strict control will ensure the safety and quality of medical cannabis products.

Furthermore, the document also allows for the import of raw materials to ensure that patients have timely access to necessary medications at pharmacies. This is a crucial aspect as it will prevent patients from having to endure lengthy waits for their medication.

One significant change included in the bill is the requirement for medical cannabis to be exclusively available through electronic prescription. This means that over-the-counter sales of medical cannabis will not be permitted.

Moreover, patients will have specific guidelines for carrying, transporting, and storing their prescribed medical cannabis. This includes adhering to the cases outlined in the medical prescription and only possessing the specified quantity per prescription.

It is important to note that the approved bill explicitly prohibits recreational cannabis, limiting its use solely for medicinal purposes. This shows a clear distinction between the two and ensures that medical cannabis is used responsibly and under strict control.

Furthermore, medicines derived from medical cannabis will fall under the legislation governing medicinal products. This means that the certification process for drugs produced from medical cannabis will align with the standards applied to other medicinal products sourced from plant raw materials.

Mykhailo Radutsky, chairman of the Standing Committee on National Health, Medical Aid, and Medical Insurance, highlighted the role of the National Police in controlling the circulation of medical cannabis. He emphasized that this bill is solely focused on cannabis-based medications grown, produced, and used under strict control by the National Police.

Lastly, the bill also eliminates Soviet-era restrictions on the production of technical cannabis (hemp), acknowledging its various uses in manufacturing food utensils, textiles, and household items. This is a step towards modernizing legislation and recognizing the potential benefits of cannabis beyond its medicinal properties.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has been a vocal supporter of the bill, stating that it is an important step in providing relief for patients suffering from serious medical conditions. With the bill now passed by parliament, many were expecting President Zelensky to sign it into law without hesitation. However, this was not the case.

Blocked by Ukraine’s Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) Parliamentary Faction

Despite the approval of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada and the potential signing of a bill legalizing medical cannabis, this initiative has faced opposition from the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) parliamentary faction. The faction, led by Yulia Tymoshenko, has consistently opposed the use of medical cannabis and has now taken steps to block its implementation in Ukraine, as reported by NV.

The faction has announced that they intend to appeal to the Constitutional Court in order to cancel the results of the vote, claiming that the amendments to the bill were considered in a “half-empty chamber”. They also believe that the bill will only serve to “legalize drug trafficking and promote the drug mafia in the country.” These accusations have been made without providing any evidence to support them.

Moreover, the opposition party, European Solidarity, also raised concerns about the bill, stating that it focuses more on industrial production rather than medical cannabis usage and lacks clear state regulation. As a result, the signing of the bill by President Zelensky has been delayed until at least mid-January, when it may potentially be unblocked by the parliament.

The delay in implementing this bill, which would regulate the use of medical cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes, is a setback for many patients who rely on medications derived from medical cannabis to alleviate their pain and treat various medical conditions such as PTSD, anxiety disorders, cancer, and HIV.

Nevertheless, it is hoped that a resolution will be reached soon, and Ukraine can join the growing number of countries around the world that have legalized medical cannabis for its numerous benefits.

In a country ravaged by war and struggling with various economic and political challenges, the approval of the medical cannabis bill was a ray of hope for many in Ukraine. It offered potential relief for patients suffering from serious medical conditions and provided an opportunity to modernize legislation and recognize the benefits of cannabis beyond its medicinal properties.

However, the recent blocking of the bill’s signing by opposition parties has put a temporary halt to this progress. This not only delays the availability of medical cannabis for patients in need but also hinders the potential economic benefits that could come from legalizing its production and use.

It is important for all parties involved to prioritize the well-being of the people and work towards finding a resolution that can benefit everyone. As Ukraine continues to rebuild and heal, the legalization of medical cannabis could be a small yet significant step in easing the pain and suffering of its people. Let’s hope that the bill can soon be unblocked and signed into law by President Zelensky, providing much-needed relief for those who need it most.

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