Ukraine on its way to approve medical use of cannabis; churches worry


Eastern Europe


Activists of the "Patients of Ukraine" organization rally outside the Ukrainian parliament demanding to pass the law regulating medical cannabis use in the country. Photo AFP, Sergei Supinsky

The Ukrainian Parliament approved the draft law to legalise the medical use of cannabis during its first reading. Churches are not happy with this development.

Cannabis can be used to treat diseases such as cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, currently, the use of the drug is illegal in all circumstances. Now, 228 deputies want to change this and voted in favour of a draft law that allows the medical use of cannabis, BBC Ukraine reports. The discussion about medical use of the drug has been ongoing for several years already.

Deputy Mykhailo Radutskyi, head of the specialised parliamentary committee, said a day earlier that millions of Ukrainians would benefit from possible legalisation. "In Ukraine, including wounded and military personnel with PTSD, such treatment is needed", he explained.

People do not need to worry about their security because of an upsurge in cannabis users, he assured. The police and national drug service will strictly control the use of it.

Widely used

The Minister of Health, Viktor Lyashko, is also in favour of legalisation, LB.ua reports. He said that it was necessary to simplify the access of patients to the treatment, which is effective for "more than 50 pathological conditions." In addition, he ensured that most cannabinoids do "not have a psychoactive effect, do not lead to addiction or euphoria and are widely used in medical practice."

Also, President Zelensky showed his favour to the bill. "All the world's best practices, and solutions, no matter how difficult or unusual they are, must be applied in Ukraine so that all Ukrainian citizens do not have to endure the pain, stress and trauma of war", he said at the end of June to the Ukrainian Parliament.


However, the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches is worried about the bill and opposes the adoption of it. It writes in an appeal that "everyone who discusses the issue of cannabis should clearly and distinctly realise that it is a narcotic substance, the use of which carries the same risks as the use of other narcotic substances."

The Council furthermore compares medical cannabis to "medical alcohol." At most, cannabis should be legalised in case of pain relief for palliative patients. "Other areas of application are associated with many risks for patients, which are greater than the expected positive effect of treatment", the Council believes. It calls on President Zelensky to veto the draft if the Parliament passes it.



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