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Ukrainian parliament votes to legalize medical cannabis

by Nate Ostiller December 21, 2023 3:34 PM 2 min read
Two participants dressed in a costume in front of the Cabinet of Ministers during a march to legalize cannabis on Oct. 9, 2023, in Kyiv. (Pavlo Gonchar/Sopa Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's parliament voted for a draft law to legalize medical cannabis, lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak said on Dec. 21.

The measure was supported by 248 lawmakers.

The draft law was first passed in July 2023, and proposed to license the economic activity of cultivating hemp for medical, industrial, and scientific purposes. It aims to help Ukrainian war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), people with cancer, and other serious illnesses to get pain relief and reduce other symptoms.

It will need to be signed by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has previously voiced support of the proposal, in order to become law.

Ukraine's Health Ministry welcomed the passage, saying that it was a "historic decision," adding that the law had been significantly revised since the first draft was passed.

If the law comes into force, the distribution of cannabis for recreational purposes would still be prohibited, and only people with a prescription from the doctor would be able to buy it legally.

The sale and distribution of medical cannabis would be strictly controlled by the government.

"We must finally honestly legalize cannabis-based medicines, relevant scientific research, and controlled Ukrainian production for everyone who needs it," Zelensky said in June.

Efforts to legalize cannabis to help Ukrainian veterans cope with trauma stymied by opposition in parliament
Many Ukrainian soldiers smoke weed to treat their pain, even though few will admit it in public. “I know a lot of guys who lost their legs or arms and turned to cannabis,” a French soldier fighting for Ukraine told the Kyiv Independent, speaking anonymously to avoid backlash. Wounded soldiers
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