Ukraine’s secret weapon – immediate legalization of medical marijuana

On June 7, 2022, a report by Health Minister Viktor Lyashko revealed that Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers supports a bill that would allow cannabis-related drug companies to operate in the country. The mmj situation has been actively discussed in Ukraine since 2017, when data suggests there is an increase in patients requiring cannabis-based medicines. As of 2021, the number has risen sharply with over 2 million people confirmed to be in need of cannabis-based medication. And now, with the full-scale invasion of the country, the number has increased significantly.

The Cabinet of Ministers has now concluded that delaying the matter is no longer an option, especially given the current Russian invasion. Because of this, the Ukrainian agency is establishing a legitimate framework that will oversee the production of marijuana-based drugs in the country. The government will actively monitor both the cultivation of cannabis and the production of the resulting drugs.

The Ukrainian government has also confirmed that experts are designing a mechanism for distributing and selling the drugs. Therefore, there should be no concerns about drug trafficking as the sale is strictly monitored and regulated. Viktor Lyashko noted in a Facebook post that authorities recognize the negative impact of war on mental health. Therefore, they believe that many people will need medical treatment as a result of the war.

He went on to explain that opponents of the bill, opposed to medicinal cannabis in the country, are intentionally comparing illegal cannabis to cannabis-based medicines. He believes it’s an attempt to negate the medical benefits of cannabis and disprove its use in medicine.

The purpose of the bill

The bill aims to help promote quality medical services for people treating various health conditions with palliative care. The bill would also make it easier for researchers to conduct more studies on the medical uses of cannabis. Patients will also get better access to various treatments for over 50 health conditions thanks to the bill. Patients suffering from PTSD, chronic pain, cancer and neurological disorders will have a shot at treatment once the law is passed.

Subsequently, the bill also introduced strict regulations and oversight of the cultivation, production, distribution, and sale of cannabis-based medicinal products. The draft law provides for the licensing and authorization of economic activities related to the cultivation of cannabis strains for scientific research and medicinal purposes. This includes a medical cannabis tracking system to ensure proper information is captured at all stages of product distribution.

The law will allow patients to purchase cannabis-based medicinal products based on a doctor’s prescription and according to the information displayed on the electronic prescription. The bill also gives a central executive body the power to determine THC levels in medicinal cannabis products through laboratory tests conducted by institutions, organizations and companies.

The road to legalizing medicinal cannabis

In truth, the bill has come a long way, having originally been presented to Ukraine’s parliament in June 2021. However, when he was first introduced to the house, he was rejected by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, also known as the Ukrainian Parliament. Lawmakers initially thought the bill would be approved in April 2021 given the legalization of the use of synthetic THC-based drugs, nabilone, dronabinol, and an iconol. But to the surprise of lawmakers, the Ukrainian parliament rejected the bill.

Before the war, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conducted a national poll in October 2022. Information from the Ukrainian daily Kyiv Post suggests that the poll showed that most Ukrainians support the organization of medical cannabis. When asked if they support the legalization of medical cannabis, 29.85% of respondents answered “no”, while 64.88% answered “yes”.

Judging from Mr. Liashko’s Facebook post, it may be that the war between Russia and Ukraine spurred the process of legalizing medicinal cannabis. He explained how the bill would create situations to improve patient access to necessary treatment for diseases such as cancer and PTSD as a result of the war.

The war invasion of Ukraine exposed many Ukrainians to tremendous post-traumatic stress disorder. Experts have warned that the effects of the war have already taken a heavy toll on young people, children and the elderly, and caused great psychological trauma.

After more than three months of war and amid the mental health collapse in the country, the Ukrainian government has found a solution – legalizing medicinal cannabis. They believe that this might be the only option to help citizens in their resilience process.

According to the press release from the country’s Ministry of Health, initial evidence has shown that the use of cannabis-based medicines is effective in treating mental disorders. Due to the stimulating and calming effects of cannabis on the human body, cannabis-based medications have been shown to help treat anxiety, sleep disorders, and PTSD.

The Ministry of Health now takes the position that Parliament should continue to support the bill, pointing out that medicinal cannabis will alleviate patients’ suffering and improve their mental state. On the other hand, adult use of cannabis will remain illegal in the country. The cultivation, production, purchase, distribution, sale and other activities related to recreational cannabis result in criminal or administrative violations.


The legalization of medical cannabis in Ukraine does not mean more accessibility for the average person. According to the draft law, cannabis-based drugs will be closely monitored and controlled. The medication can only be obtained by people with a medically confirmed diagnosis. First of all, the prescription will be electronic, which will make manipulation practically impossible. Pharma chains will also be responsible for overseeing the sale and distribution of medicines, while companies that need to manufacture medicines from them will need to be licensed.

It seems that the Ukrainian government has everything planned. Hopefully medical cannabis will help ease the stress of war for the over 2 million citizens who have been confirmed in need of cannabis-based medicines. And most importantly, this will lead to the beginning of recreational cannabis reform in the country.







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