Fighting prejudice and misinformation is a hard task. Despite all the existing evidence supporting its health benefits and positive environmental impacts, in many countries across the globe cannabis and cannabis-derived products are still seen as nothing more than common drugs. This makes it difficult for governments to authorize the use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in those countries, even for medical purposes.
Ukraine seems to be among the countries still fighting this issue. Despite the efforts to bring the acceptance of medical cannabis to the government and the population, this remains an issue to be resolved. However, new steps are now being taken to consider the legalization of medical cannabis in Ukraine.
The Verkhovna Rada (also known as the Supreme Council of Ukraine, which is the parliament of Ukraine) finally started to look at this matter. Recently, the Verkhovna Rada Human Rights Committee decided to create a group to work on a new law for medical cannabis in Ukraine.
Moreover, this committee also decided to ask the Cabinet of Ministers to remove cannabis from the list of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and its precursors. Nina Reznichenko, Chairman of the Athena Women Against Cancer association also attended the meeting and is a public supporter of this decision.
Reznichenko states that cancer patients are often “forced into the illegal business” of using cannabis since the substance is such an effective way of alleviating cancer pain. “Over fifty-five women of our community died over the past two years; at least eight of them illegally used medicine with medical cannabis and survived this way”, she adds.
Oleksandr Opanasenko, deputy chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Freedom of Speech and Information Policy, also supports this decision and recently wrote an opinion article regarding the subject.
Opanasenko argues that the legalization of medical cannabis in Ukraine is a topic that is “not just urgent and painful”, but also a problem that “needs to be resolved as soon as possible”.
The deputy chairman views cannabis as a way of resolving one of Ukraine’s most pressing public health matters.
“In Ukraine, a huge number of people suffer from pain without receiving – or with great difficulty – effective painkillers”, he adds. “They use such a narcotic substance as morphine. But it quickly causes a strong dependence. The best alternative is cannabis medicine”.
The fact that there are parliament committees working on and supporting this new medical cannabis bill may be the opportunity that many Ukrainian patients were hoping for. The official acknowledgement of medical cannabis as effective pain medicine, as well as its consequent legalization for medical use, represent powerful steps towards the acceptance and introduction of cannabis and cannabis-derived products in the medical field.