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16 Feb, 2024 01:34

Zelensky signs marijuana law

Ukraine has legalized medical cannabis; the first batches of the imported product are expected later this year   
Zelensky signs marijuana law

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has signed a bill legalizing the medical use of cannabis, with officials arguing that it will help both soldiers and civilians treat post-traumatic stress disorder amid the ongoing conflict with Russia.

Lawmakers will now work on the necessary regulations to allow the import of cannabis-based products, as developing domestic cultivation will take more time.

“A draft bill on regulating the circulation of plants from the hemp class… has been signed by the president,” the Ukrainian parliament said in a notice on Thursday. Ukrainian lawmakers adopted the bill overwhelmingly in a 248-16 vote in December.

The law will take effect in six months and will regulate the circulation of hemp plants for “medical and industrial purposes, (as well as) scientific and scientific-technical activities” in order to expand “patient access to the necessary treatment of oncological diseases and post-traumatic stress disorders received as a result of the war,” according to the text.

An “independent European medical cannabis advisor,” Hanna Hlushchenko, who has been working with the Ukrainian pro-marijuana lobby, told Forbes that her “estimate is that the first products will be on the market by Q3 or Q4 of this year.”

President Zelensky had promoted the measure as a way for Ukrainians to relieve pain and anxiety, arguing that Ukraine must follow Western examples. “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 to Ukraine,” Zelensky told the nation's parliament last year.

Critics of the measure, including ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, have argued that the law is flawed and will allow “trillion-dollar drug businesses and drug mafias” to bribe their way into the country.