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Ukraine legalizes medical cannabis

Today, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted the draft law on the legalization of medical cannabis in the second reading. 248 MPs were in favor. The law comes into force six months after its publication. Therefore, this is somewhere in the second half of 2024.

The bill regulates the circulation of cannabis only in medical, industrial and scientific activities. Distribution of cannabis for recreational use will continue to be considered a crime and will be investigated by the police in accordance with the law.

The production of medical cannabis will be strictly controlled at all stages. Only legal entities that obtain the appropriate license and GMP certificate will be able to grow under round-the-clock video surveillance with access for the National Police. Each plant will be individually coded to track the movement of plants to the patient.

Medicinal cannabis-based drugs will be available only with an electronic prescription. This prescription will be issued by a doctor according to the patient's condition, as is currently the case with morphine. Patients will receive medicines only in pharmacies that have the appropriate license and storage conditions, Kravchuk said.

Ihor Kuzin, the chief sanitary doctor of Derazhnya, noted on Facebook that the Ministry of Health will approve a list of diseases and conditions for which patients can be prescribed medicines based on medical cannabis. "Patients will be able to transport and store such medicines in the amount specified in one prescription," he wrote.

Still some concerns
For her part, MP Iryna Gerashchenko said that the EU faction abstained because none of their amendments were taken into account.

"During the first reading, we supported this draft law to finalize it for the second reading. We support the use of cannabis for medical purposes. We worked a lot with NGOs lobbying for the adoption of this law. But it was these same NGOs that also called for the law to be sent back for a second reading," Gerashchenko wrote.

She noted that the bill simplifies the medical use of cannabis-based medicines and instructs the government to expand the list of medicines. But, according to Gerashchenko, this can be done without a law, only by a resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers.

"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. But it does not improve the system of control over the circulation," Gerashchenko wrote.

The MP points out that the law contains many mutually exclusive norms, when one article prohibits what another allows. And the decision on which norm to use will be made by the police investigator, which creates grounds for corruption.

Gerashchenko also notes that the draft law does not take into account the need to obtain a permit to use premises for drug trafficking activities. Currently, the National Police requires hospitals, pharmacies, pharmacists, etc. to obtain such a permit. Now it will be unnecessary.

"The state budget for 2024 does not include expenditures for the electronic drug accounting system. Therefore, we can confidently say that it will not be launched on time. But without this accounting system, no provision of the law will work. But industrial hemp cultivation will begin. And this law is not about the medical use of cannabis, but about its industrial production," Gerashchenko wrote.

She noted that the Minister of Health admitted that the production of Ukrainian medicines based on cannabis could be established no earlier than in 3 years.


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