The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, is poised to pass a bill on the legalization of medicinal cannabis in Ukraine this month.  

A preliminary bill was adopted as a basis by 268 votes back in July. Since then, lawmakers have submitted more than 800 amendments.

Ukraine’s Health Ministry and the WHO estimate that up to seven million people in Ukraine may require cannabis-based medications, including wounded and traumatized military servicepersons with PTSD symptoms, civilians suffering pain, and cancer and epilepsy patients.

According to the parliament’s website, the Committee on National Health recommended the final adoption of the bill back on Oct. 10, but additional proposals arrived from the Health Ministry, the Rada’s Main Legal Department and members of the Committee.

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“Due to the importance of the additional amendments, we considered them on Nov. 4. The Committee has submitted Draft Bill #7457 to the Rada. This month it may be adopted,” Mykhailo Radutsky, chairman of the Standing Committee on National Health, Medical Aid and Medical Insurance, told Kyiv Post.

What does the redrafted bill offer?

The Health Committee chairman told Kyiv Post that most of the amendments pertain to patients’ access to cannabis-based treatment and control over the production of medical cannabis.

If adopted, the bill will oblige the government to move medical cannabis from List 1 (drugs not permitted for circulation) to List 2 (permitted under strict control) and the Agrarian Policy Ministry to keep a register of legal entities engaged in the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp. The National Police will have access to the register.

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Laboratory control of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) will be carried out exclusively at specialized laboratories of the Interior and Justice Ministries, the Security Service, the State Border Service, and the State Medicine Service.

“We will permit imports of raw materials so that patients won’t have to wait for several years but almost immediately get the medicines they need at drugstores… They will be permitted to carry, transport and keep hemp-based medicines prescribed to them in the quantity specified in one prescription,” Radutsky said.

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He emphasized that the bill prohibits any recreational use of cannabis.

One question has raised particular concerns in society: Does the document specify procedures for the use of such medications by the military? Radutsky explained that the draft bill is a framework document.

“All the regulations will be set by the government. We give it three months to prepare the regulatory bylaws. I don’t think there should be some separate procedure. Our defenders will be able to use such medication if doctors prescribe them,” Radutsky said.

How will cannabis-based medications be certified and who will control their circulation?

The bill adds cannabis-based medicines to the general list of medications produced from herbal raw materials.

“We permit the cultivation of medicinal hemp in covered areas in keeping with the proper practice of cultivation and collection of herbal raw materials,” the lawmaker said.

According to him, cannabis, cannabis resin and THC extracted from hemp will have to be entered in the State Register of Medical Products as active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for further production of medicines. These API will be added to Table ІІ of the List of Narcotic and Psychotropic Substances.

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“Some of these API will be produced at industrial facilities in keeping with the government rules pertaining to medicinal products that can be used after clinical tests and proper state registration,” Radutsky said.

He stressed that the bill vests the National Police with full authority for controlling the circulation of medical cannabis: “Let me stress again: it’s exclusively about cannabis-based medications that will be grown, produced and used under the National Police’s strict control.”

The lawmakers approve of the draft bill

According to Radutsky, the overwhelming majority of his fellow-lawmakers from the Servant of the People pro-presidential faction are for adopting Bill #7457, while members of other factions have raised some questions.

“We have done explanatory work with them and made amendments and corrections to the draft bill for the second reading, so now I think the majority of lawmakers will support it,” he said, explaining most of the speculations and manipulations around the document by Soviet-era stereotypes.

“Some argue that the day after cannabis is allowed people will begin to smoke weed on the street. And they’re also afraid that the National Police won’t be able to control the circulation of hemp,” Radutsky said.

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