By / February 19, 2024

Ukraine: President Zelensky Signs Law Legalizing Medical Cannabis

In response to the growing medical needs caused by the ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukraine has taken a decisive step toward supporting its citizens, including soldiers affected by war traumas. President Volodymyr Zelensky officially signed a law legalizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. This historic event, initiated on Wednesday, paves the way for new treatment methods for people suffering from severe illnesses and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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A Long Road to Medical Cannabis Legalization in Ukraine

The decision to legalize cannabis for medical purposes was preceded by months of intense discussions and attempts at blockades by the opposition. Eventually, after a failed attempt to overthrow the reform in parliament, the law was approved, marking a victory for the Zelensky government and patients waiting for alternative treatment methods.

The law will come into effect six months after its official publication, giving the government time to develop specific regulations governing the new program. The Ministry of Health and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine are tasked with creating a solid foundation for the safe and effective implementation of medical cannabis in the healthcare system.

Changes in the Ukraine Drug Code

A key element of the reform is the reclassification of cannabis in the country’s drug code. Moving cannabis from the list of strictly prohibited substances (List I) to the list of substances allowed for medical use on prescription (List II) enables the start of importing cannabis products and developing domestic drug production based on it.

The law legalizes the use of medical cannabis for people struggling with severe diseases, including cancer, and PTSD, a direct result of ongoing war actions. Although the original text of the law specifically listed these two groups, the expansion of the catalog of diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, reflects the lawmakers’ openness to the needs of patients with various ailments.

Regulations and Oversight

The responsibility for regulations concerning the cultivation and processing of cannabis will be entrusted to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy. Oversight of the distribution of medical cannabis will be a joint task of the National Police and the State Agency for Drugs, ensuring a high level of safety and control over the process of introducing medical cannabis for use.

President Zelensky, expressing his support for legalization, emphasized the importance of applying the best global practices and solutions to alleviate the suffering of Ukrainian citizens. His involvement in the legislative process and call for fair treatment of patients in need of cannabis-based medicines is an important element in the national debate on health and treatment.

Beyond Medical Cannabis

Ukraine is not only expanding its approach to mental health treatment using medical cannabis but is also exploring therapies using psychedelic drugs such as ketamine and MDMA. According to, military units struggling with war traumas may benefit from psychedelic therapy.

Dr. Vladislav Matrenitsky, a pioneer in this field, has noted successes in treating patients suffering from PTSD and depression with ketamine, paving the way for further research and potential use of MDMA and psilocybin, despite current legal restrictions. There is hope for the approval of a pilot project using psychedelic substances, which could make Ukraine a leader in the global psychedelic therapy revolution, offering new hope for those affected by the conflict and its psychological effects.

The legalization of medical cannabis and the possibility of benefiting from psychedelic therapy in Ukraine is a groundbreaking moment that has the potential to change the lives of many patients. This decision, in addition to medical aspects, carries an important political and social message, highlighting the country’s openness to modern solutions in the field of medicine and patient care. In the face of ongoing conflict, this initiative is also a statement of striving to improve the quality of life of those affected by the consequences of war.

(Featured image by The Presidential Office of Ukraine (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0))

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