Discussions About Medical Cannabis: Why Ukraine Needs Legalization

Discussions About Medical Cannabis: Why Ukraine Needs Legalization
18.12.2020

The issue of legalizing cannabis as a medicine was raised in the beginning of 2019 by Volodymyr Zelenskyi. An electronic petition with a request to legalize the production, study and use of medical hemp in Ukraine collected more than 25 thousand signatures by March 2019. However, the issue still remains unresolved. In the following material we’ll try to understand what prevents legalization and why Ukraine needs it anyway.

Medical and recreational cannabis: what's the difference?

Medical and recreational cannabis: what's the difference?

Today, the Criminal Code of Ukraine and the Code of Administrative Violations of Ukraine imply administrative and criminal liability for the cultivation, study and sale of hemp and any substances containing it. Cannabis belongs to the list of narcotic substances.

The controversy surrounding the legalization of cannabis in Ukrainian society arises primarily due to a lack of understanding of the difference between medical and recreational cannabis. Let's explain that there are two main active ingredients in hemp: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). They have a direct impact on the consciousness of a person and a body as a whole.

Recreational cannabis contains high amounts of THC, which has a psychoactive effect. Its content can range from 7 to 35% (hydroponics). Thus, the higher it is, the stronger the intoxication, psychotropic effects, addiction and general harm to the body.

Medical cannabis is characterized by high CBD content and very low THC content (≈1%). It is cannabidiol that has a therapeutic effect: it relaxes, relieves pain, helps with anxiety, depression, mental disorders, has a calming effect, while not causing addiction.

Who needs medical cannabis

Who needs medical cannabis

According to doctors, medications based on cannabidiol could significantly help with:

  • Alzheimer's disease: slows down the process of neurodegeneration;
  • oncology: for palliative treatment, relieves pain, removes nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy;
  • epilepsy: weakens muscle spasms and reduces the frequency of seizures;
  • Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis: cures 50% of cases;
  • multiple sclerosis: palliative care;
  • glaucoma;
  • post-traumatic syndrome of military personnel and other people;
  • chronic pain associated with rare diseases.

Dmytro Sherembey, the founder of 100% Life charity organization notes that even simple cannabinoid oil can replace up to eight narcotic medications that are now prescribed to children with epilepsy. Moreover, those pills do not help, but the oil could reduce the number of seizures by 98% for more than 20 thousand patients.

According to rough estimates, the total number of severely ill people who could get help by medications based on hemp is 2.5 million people.

Perhaps this figure would be higher if scientists could legally investigate the medical properties of cannabis and its uses.

Pros and cons of legalization

Pros and cons of legalization
 

Ukrainian society has different attitudes towards the possibility of adopting a law on the legalization of medical cannabis. Representatives of the authorities also express polar opinions on this matter.

For example, Mykyta Poturayev, a member of the Servant of the People party told RBC news agency that cannabis is primarily a medicine. For all skeptical people, he recommends going to the Hemp March and look into the eyes of people with cancer from the Association of Cancer Patients and "stop talking nonsense."

According to Deputy Minister of Ministry of Internal Affairs Olexandr Gogilashvili, Ukraine is not yet ready to legalize medical cannabis. For such a decision, the government first needs to resolve the issue with the Ministry of Health regarding the control of the prescription for hemp, as well as eliminate all illegal points of sale.

If we talk about the position of the country's population, according to a sociological survey by the Rating group, the majority of Ukrainians are in favor of legalization. The option "fully support" was chosen by 30% of the respondents, 28% indicated that they most likely support.

How legalization can help the national economy

How legalization can help the national economy
 

In the difficult economic situation associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the legalization of medical cannabis would help attract significant funds to the national budget. This is evident from the experience of other states that have already adopted a law on legalization.

For example, Georgia became the first country in the post-Soviet space to legalize medical hemp, although it had a tough policy regarding its distribution for any purpose before that for a long time. In 2006, more than $11 million in fines for violating anti-drug laws filled the treasury.

But the decision to legalize cannabis in 2018 attracted much more money to the national budget. According to government estimates, in the first year of the legal regime alone, hemp exports brought about $400 million.

And when a similar law was adopted in the state of Nevada, the state revenue from taxes amounted to $1 million on the very first day.

Total cannabis market revenue is projected to be $73.6 billion by 2027, according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. It also states that 71% of profits come from the sale of medical cannabis in 2020.

In Ukraine, there is no talk of full legalization yet, but the cultivation and sale of cannabis for treatment open up more prospects than it seems at first glance. A new market segment means new jobs. This will partially solve the problem with unemployment, as well as weaken the positions of shadow market. In addition, Ukraine has every chance to become a leader in this niche and work for the export of medical hemp, being a state with a strong agricultural economy.

Thus, legalization solves a number of important issues at once:

  • it helps severely ill patients;
  • it ensures the flow of tax funds to the treasury;
  • it creates new jobs;
  • it displaces the shadow market and opens up prospects for the development of Ukraine as an exporting country, which implies additional profit.

In order for Ukraine to experience all the benefits of legalizing medical cannabis, it is first necessary to properly prepare the legislative framework and create appropriate control bodies at all stages: from the manufacture of medical cannabis to its sale and use in the form of drugs.


Learn more about the benefits that the legalization of medical cannabis can bring to Ukraine on May 13, 2021 at Medical Cannabis Kyiv Conference.

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