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Medical Marijuana, Hemp Legislation Continues in War-torn Ukraine

Russian war could be factor in pushing cannabis legalization.




Ukraine is moving closer to legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, with the national government recently approving a draft law that will be presented to the country’s Parliament.

The draft, known as Law No. 7457, follows the standards set by the European Union for medical cannabis. Its main aim is to regulate the use of cannabis for medical purposes in Ukraine, bringing the country in line with its European counterparts.

Ukraine has hopes of joining the EU in the near future, so a matching cannabis plan would be one step in easing negotiations going forward. “We have a very ambitious plan to join the European Union within the next two years,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told POLITICO in January. “So we expect that this year, in 2023, we can already have this pre-entry stage of negotiations.”

Important provisions of the draft law include limits on THC content in different types of hemp. Industrial hemp will have a maximum THC level of 0.3%, while medical hemp can exceed 0.3%. The law also seeks to distinguish between medical and non-medical uses of hemp by excluding industrial hemp from existing drug trafficking regulations.

Currently, cannabis, even for medical purposes, is strictly prohibited in Ukraine. This creates challenges for patients who rely on cannabis-based medications, as pharmaceutical companies cannot produce them under the current regulations. Additionally, the strict policies hinder scientific research on cannabis.

The idea of legalizing cannabis in Ukraine was initially raised in 2017 when a petition with 25,000 signatures called for immediate action. While the petition prompted the Parliament to consider the issue and develop a bill, the actual legalization process was delayed.


The war with Russia could could see the legalization push picking up speed again. Minister of Healthcare Viktor Liashko said in June 2022 NPR report that Ukraine’s cabinet had approved a bill “on regulating the circulation of cannabis plants for medical, industrial purposes, scientific and scientific-technical activities to create the conditions for expanding the access of patients to the necessary treatment of cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from war.”

“We understand the negative consequences of war on the state of mental health,” Liashko wrote. “We understand the number of people who will need medical treatment as a result of this impact. And we understand that there is no time to wait.”

However, opponents of the draft law suggest that the push for cannabis legalization in Ukraine may be influenced by certain U.S. and Canadian corporations. Ukraine’s status as a major agrarian state only adds to the appeal for cannabis development there. Opponents claim that companies like Tetra Bio Pharma Inc., Corbus Pharmaceuticals, and Zynerba Pharmaceuticals Inc. are lobbying for legalization to expand their presence in the Ukrainian market.



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