Ukraine is considering legalizing medicinal marijuana

Against the backdrop of a poll initiated by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky asking Ukrainians whether they approved the legalization of medical marijuana, Russian media have unleashed a virtual avalanche of fakes claiming that Ukraine is becoming a drug hub and the main supplier of drugs to Europe and the United States., Federalnoye Agentstvo Novostey are two of the most vocal propagators of this fake story.

“The medical cannabis lobby came up with this scheme and generously financed the President’s PR to show a picture of the entire country supporting the legalization of weed,” declared, further claiming that former Health Minister Ulana Suprun and George Soros supporters were the main lobbyists for marijuana legalization. The publication claims that after 2014 the push for medical marijuana legalization increased greatly and currently, the entire process is driven by international pharmaceutical giants who have suddenly turned their attention to Ukraine, a country that is tightly controlled by the United States and the European Union.

President Zelensky’s official web site features arguments both for and against medical marijuana legalization.

According to the presidential office, the use of cannabis as an effective and mild painkiller is especially important for people with cancer, who, while cannabis remains illegal, are forced to take more severe and dangerous drugs. Also, in countries that allow the use of medical marijuana, its effectiveness has been demonstrated in depression. The President’s office estimates that at least two million Ukrainians would be helped by medical marijuana. 

The pluses and minuses of legalizing marijuana are being discussed in many countries. In Great Britain for example, drugs containing cannabis are prescribed only by a limited number of doctors and only certain companies with special licenses can import such drugs. Currently the price of such medicines is quite high.

The Ukrainian Medical Cannabis Association believes that marijuana legalization will allow for greater control of the quality of the cannabis and will help establish clear rules for handling the relevant drugs. It is also hoped that such legalization will help level the black market for medical marijuana where there is no control over the quality or origin of cannabis based drugs. The Association advocates legalizing medical marijuana in a manner similar to opiate regulation, it should be dispensed only with a prescription issued by a special doctor and purchased only in a state owned specialized pharmacy.

According to Ukrainian MP Oleksander Opanasenko, the author of the medical marijuana law, the law specifically outlines very strict controls over medical marijuana use and distribution. In an interview with the Slovo I Dilo newspaper, Opanasenko explained that the law envisions strict regulations over all drugs that contain cannabis and also pointed out that there are medicines made out of marijuana that do not contain narcotics.

“Ukraine has developed a procedure for working with drugs such as morphine and other opiates that are produced and sold in Ukraine under the strictest police controls and subject to severe regulation” Opanasenko explained. 

Marijuana use for medical reasons is currently allowed in several European countries – Denmark, Austria, Italia, Switzerland, Poland, Finland, North Macedonia. Medical marijuana is also allowed in Turkey, Israel, Russia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Peru, Thailand, Vanuatu and Panama.