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Opposition’s Block Delays Medical Marijuana Legalization in Ukraine

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Kyiv, Ukraine – December 27, 2023

Plans to legalize medical marijuana in Ukraine face an unexpected delay as the opposition party Batkivshchyna obstructs the signing of a bill approved by the country's unicameral legislature earlier this month.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the leader of the Batkivshchyna (Fatherland) party, has consistently opposed the measure, citing concerns that the proposal would legalize “drug trafficking and the drug mafia in the country.” Tymoshenko intends to appeal to the Constitutional Court, alleging that the amendments to the bill were considered in a “half-empty chamber.”

Despite Tymoshenko's efforts to block the legislation, Olha Stefanishyna, a member of parliament and Ukraine's deputy prime minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration, reassures supporters on social media that the setback is temporary. “Friends, don't panic. This is a standard and expected step,” she wrote, expressing confidence that the measure will be unblocked in January.

Medical marijuana supporters anticipate overcoming the opposition's block in January, paving the way for the bill to reach President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has signaled his support for the reform. Zelensky emphasized the importance of adopting global best practices, including legalizing cannabis-based medicines, in a speech to the parliament earlier this year.

The opposition's resistance comes despite the Verkhovna Rada passing the legislation with 248 votes last week, overcoming opponents who attempted to block the proposal with hundreds of what critics called “spam” amendments. The bill, which initially listed cancer and war-borne PTSD as eligible conditions, moves marijuana from strictly prohibited to available for medical use with a prescription under List II of the country's drug code.

While critics, including Tymoshenko, argue against the need for additional medical marijuana reform, proponents emphasize the potential relief it can offer for various illnesses, such as Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy. The law, once signed by President Zelensky, will become effective six months later.

Ukraine's move toward medical marijuana legalization puts it in stark contrast to Russia, a long-time adversary, which has vehemently opposed international cannabis policy reform. Russia has condemned countries like Canada for legalizing marijuana nationwide, highlighting the divergence in policy approaches between the two neighboring nations.

 

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.