Ukrainian lawmakers have overwhelmingly backed a new bill that would legalize medical use of cannabis, arguing that it would help treat post-traumatic stress disorders suffered by soldiers and civilians as a result of the ongoing conflict with Russia.
The bill was adopted in a 248-16 vote on Thursday, with 33 members of parliament abstaining and another 40 not voting.
Once signed, the legislation will come into effect in six months and would regulate the circulation of hemp plants for “medical, industrial purposes, scientific and scientific-technical activities” in order to expand “patient access to the necessary treatment of oncological diseases and post-traumatic stress disorders, received as a result of the war,” according to the text of the bill.
President Vladimir Zelensky has yet to rubber-stamp the bill, but he has previously voiced support for the measure, arguing that Ukraine must follow the Western example in every way possible.
“All the world’s best practices, all the most effective policies, all the solutions, no matter how difficult or unusual they may seem to us, must be applied to Ukraine,” Zelensky told the parliament in June.
Ukrainian officials mulled legalizing the drug in some capacity since 2016, but the first bill on the matter was introduced only in 2021, under Zelensky’s leadership.
Ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, whose Batkivshchyna party voted against the measure, has vowed to battle it in court, arguing that “trillion-dollar drug businesses and drug mafias” will bribe their way into Ukraine.
“We will appeal… and when a normal Constitutional Court and, I hope, a normal government comes, Ukraine will cancel all this garbage,” Timoshenko said, warning that “when this corruption law is repealed, it will be difficult to remove the metastases of the drug business, because law enforcement structures and courts may become part of it.”
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