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Ukraine’s Zelensky Signs Medical Marijuana Bill, A Step He Says Can Heal ‘Pain, Stress and Trauma Of War’ With Russia



Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has officially signed a bill to legalize medical marijuana—a step that he and other officials say can help soldiers address physical and mental wounds incurred during the nation’s war with Russia.

About one month after the legislation was “unblocked” from advancing to the president’s desk as an attempt to overturn the reform failed in the country’s parliament, Zelensky gave final approval to the bill on Wednesday.

The law will take effect within six months of being formally published, with the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Ministry of Health tasked with developing rules for the program during that time.

Ukraine could start importing marijuana products sooner, after cannabis is moved from strictly prohibited under List I to available for medical use with a prescription under List II of the country’s drug code.

Lawmakers approved the medical cannabis legislation in December, but the opposition Batkivshchyna party used a procedural tactic to block it by forcing consideration of a resolution to repeal the measure. That resolution failed in January, clearing its path to enactment.

Opponents previously tried to derail the marijuana bill by filing hundreds of what critics called “spam” amendments, but that attempt similarly failed, with the measure ultimately passing with 248 votes.


The law that’s set to take effect will legalize medical cannabis for patients with severe illnesses and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from the nation’s ongoing conflict with Russia, which launched an invasion of Ukraine two years ago.

While the text of the legislation as introduced only explicitly lists cancer and war-borne PTSD as conditions for which medical cannabis could be dispensed to patients, the chair of the health committee said in July that lawmakers hear daily from patients with other illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

The Agrarian Policy Ministry will hold regulatory responsibilities over cannabis cultivation and processing operations. The National Police and State Agency on Medicines will also hold oversight and enforcement authorities related to the distribution of the medicine.

Zelensky, for his part, voiced support for medical marijuana legalization last June, stating in an address to the parliament that “all the world’s best practices, all the most effective policies, all the solutions, no matter how difficult or unusual they may seem to us, must be applied in Ukraine so that Ukrainians, all our citizens, do not have to endure the pain, stress and trauma of war.”

“In particular, we must finally fairly legalize cannabis-based medicines for all those who need them, with appropriate scientific research and controlled Ukrainian production,” he said.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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During his presidential campaign, Zelensky also voiced support for medical cannabis legalization, saying in 2019 that he feels it would be “normal” to allow people to access cannabis “droplets,” which is possibly a reference to marijuana tinctures.

The policy change puts Ukraine is stark contrast to its long-time aggressor Russia, which has taken a particularly strong stance against reforming cannabis policy at the international level through the United Nations. The country has condemned Canada for legalizing marijuana nationwide, for example.

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