Ukrainian parliament passes bill on medical cannabis in second reading
On December 21, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the draft law on medical cannabis in the second reading. This decision was supported by 248 MPs
MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak reports.
The draft law regulates the cannabis trade only in medical, industrial and scientific activities. The marijuana distribution for recreational use will continue to be subject to criminal liability. "Medicinal production will be strictly controlled at all stages. Only legal entities that obtain the appropriate license and GMP certificate will be able to grow under 24-hour video surveillance with access for the National Police. Each plant will be individually coded to track the movement of plants to the patient," Zheleznyak emphasized.
Medicinal cannabis-based drugs will be available only by electronic prescription. "The doctor will issue this prescription to the patient according to their condition, as is currently the case with morphine," the politician clarified.
The law will come into force six months after its publication, i.e. approximately in the second half of 2024.
EU MP Iryna Herashchenko explained that the fraction abstained from voting because not a single amendment from the faction was taken into account, and the law itself contains mutually exclusive regulations. "The law is needed to legislate the possibility of using cannabis for medicinal purposes, without the risk of criminal liability for doctors, pharmacists and patients. However, it does not improve the system of control over the circulation. The law contains many contradictory provisions when one article prohibits what another article allows. And the decision on which provision to use will be made by the police investigator, which creates grounds for corruption," Herashchenko explained.
According to her, the state budget for 2024 does not include expenditures for the electronic drug accounting system. That is, it will not start working when it is defined by law, but industrial hemp cultivation will begin. "This law is not about the medical use of cannabis, but about its industrial production. At the same time, the Minister of Health admitted that the production of Ukrainian medicines based on cannabis can be established no earlier than in 3 years," the MP summarized.
The Servant of the People’s position
MP from the Servant of the People faction Yevheniya Kravchuk refuted several myths about medical cannabis and emphasized that its legalization has nothing to do with drugs, it does not cause physical dependence and will be dispensed only to patients with a doctor's prescription and in the form of medicines. "According to the US National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, medical cannabis is used to treat more than 50 pathological conditions," the politician wrote.
She also denied that every pharmacy in Ukraine will be able to produce any medicines from cannabis raw materials."Patients will receive medicines only in those pharmacies that have the appropriate license and storage conditions," Kravchuk said.
The Ministry of Health's reaction
The Ministry of Health called the adoption of the bill a historic decision. "We thank you on behalf of the medical community for the decision, because medical cannabis is a medicine for millions of people: cancer patients, people with multiple sclerosis, patients receiving palliative care, etc.", the statement says.
The ministry noted that a list of diseases and conditions for which patients have the right to receive cannabis-based medicines will be approved in the near future.
The Ministry of Health emphasized that cannabis-based medicines are authorized in 56 countries.
In July 2021, the Verkhovna Rada did not support the draft law on medical cannabis No. 5596. The document was returned for revision. At the time, MP Mykola Kniazhytskyi emphasized that the cannabis bill should clearly spell out control over the cultivation of hemp.
In November 2021, the draft law on medical cannabis was submitted for public discussion.
On June 10, 2022, the Verkhovna Rada registered a government bill on medical cannabis under the number 7457. Before that, the government supported the legalization of medical cannabis in Ukraine.
A number of Ukrainian public organizations demanded that the Verkhovna Rada adopt the draft law. The draft law, titled "On Regulation of the Turnover of Cannabis Plants for Medical, Industrial, Scientific and Technical Purposes to Create Conditions for Expanding Patients' Access to the Necessary Treatment of Cancer and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders Caused by War," does not provide for full legalization, but allows the use of the plant only for medical and scientific purposes.
The explanatory note to the draft law states that the expediency of the therapeutic use of cannabis has been confirmed by scientists for the following conditions. palliative care (mainly cannabis-based drugs are used to relieve a range of symptoms in cancer patients who need help, including pain relief, eating disorders, and sleep).
On July 7, the Ministry of Health announced its support for the bill on the legalization of medical cannabis, and on July 13, the Verkhovna Rada supported the document in the first reading.