The Ukrainian Parliament recently approved a bill that paves the way for the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes. This historic step could significantly impact the future of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in the country. This bill assumes that medical cannabis will be available to patients suffering from serious diseases, such as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder.
A key aspect of this bill is also the potential for import and export opportunities, opening new prospects for local and international businesses. In the early years of the medical cannabis market in Ukraine , imports can play a significant role in meeting demand before domestic cultivation gains momentum.
This opens the door to numerous business opportunities for both Ukrainian and foreign companies that want to adapt their offer to the growing market needs. Last week, the Chief Pharmaceutical Inspectorate issued the first consent to the cultivation of medical cannabis in Poland . Will medical cannabis from Polish crops be exported to Ukraine?
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Details of the bill which legalized medical cannabis in Ukraine
The bill adopted by the Ukrainian parliament opens up wide opportunities for the use of cannabis for medical purposes. This act details the scope of activities that will be allowed, focusing primarily on the treatment of serious illnesses such as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is an important step forward towards providing access to new forms of therapy for patients struggling with these serious diseases.
The Ministry of Health of Ukraine plays a key role in the implementation of this law. This ministry will be responsible for defining specific conditions and methods of using cannabis-based medicines. This includes both guidelines on the types of conditions that qualify for medical cannabis therapy and detailed procedures for prescribing and using it.
Comparison with Polish and other European models
The medical cannabis market in Ukraine has much in common with the models in force in Europe, including Poland. As in most European countries, the Ukrainian model emphasizes strict regulation and state control. Medical cannabis will be available only with a prescription and will be distributed through pharmacies, which is typical of the European approach, where the priority is patient safety and rigorous medical standards.
In contrast to the models used in North America, where there is often a greater emphasis on accessibility and private enterprise, the Ukrainian and European systems are based on a more pharmaceutical model. This approach focuses on ensuring that medical cannabis is treated like any other medicine, subject to strict testing, approval and distribution procedures.
Timetable for the implementation of the act
After President Volodymyr Zelensky approves the law, the process of its implementation will begin. According to the provisions of the act, it will enter into force six months after its official approval. This time is necessary to prepare the appropriate regulations and infrastructure needed to introduce medical cannabis to the market.
A key element in this process is the three-month deadline for developing implementing regulations. During these three months, public health and drug control authorities will work to create detailed regulations regarding the distribution, prescription and use of medical cannabis. This is a critical period that will determine many aspects of the functioning of the future market, including licensing rules, quality control and product availability.
Licensing and regulatory framework
Hanna Hlushchenko, an independent advisor in the field of medical cannabis in Europe, emphasizes the importance of developing precise licensing requirements and regulatory frameworks. According to her guidance, the first step the government must take is to define specific licensing requirements for medical cannabis producers and distributors.
Hlushchenko is working with the Ukrainian Medical Cannabis Association to support the government in creating these regulations. In Europe, medical cannabis products typically fall into two categories: flowers (dried) and extracts, mainly oils. Ukraine is expected to adopt a similar format, although the exact details are still under discussion and have not yet been defined in law.
A key aspect for manufacturers interested in exporting will be the need to meet Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards, which is typical for pharmaceutical companies. GMP certification, usually overseen by European health authorities, is a strict quality control applied at the production stage. This requirement may significantly extend the time needed to start crops in Ukraine.
Challenges and opportunities for domestic cultivation
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification plays a key role in the process of legalizing the cultivation of medical cannabis in Ukraine. This is an international quality standard that ensures that products are manufactured and controlled to the highest safety standards. For Ukrainian producers, meeting these stringent requirements means the need to invest in modern technologies and quality management systems. Although GMP certification is a challenge, it also represents an opportunity to raise domestic production standards and strengthen Ukraine’s position in the international medical cannabis market.
As for the time it will take to start growing crops in the country, Hanna Hlushchenko predicts that licensed producers could start growing cannabis in Ukraine at the earliest in late 2026 or early 2027, provided everything goes according to plan. This is an estimated time that takes into account both the legislative process and the technical and operational preparations necessary to start cultivation.
Moreover, it is still unclear whether a limit on the number of cultivation licenses will be introduced in Ukraine. Such a restriction would aim to control production and ensure compliance with high quality standards, but could also impact competitiveness and innovation in the industry.
The role of cannabis import in the first phase
In the initial years of development of the Ukrainian medical cannabis market, import will be crucial. Before domestic crops begin to play their role, imported products will be the main source of access to medical cannabis for patients. This approach will enable faster introduction of medical cannabis treatment, while allowing time to develop and improve domestic production.
The process of importing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) of cannabis will require close cooperation with the State Expert Center of Ukraine, which is a branch of the Ministry of Health. This center will be responsible for API registration, ensuring that imported products meet all necessary safety and effectiveness standards.
In terms of distribution, it is expected that medical cannabis will be available to patients through pharmacies. This solution provides controlled access to the drug and the possibility of professional pharmaceutical advice. Hanna Hlushchenko notes that pharmacies will need a special license to produce drugs on-site, and currently about 200 pharmacies in Ukraine have such a permit.
To sum up, the approval of the law on medical cannabis in Ukraine opens a new chapter in the field of healthcare and pharmaceutical industry in the country. The introduction of strict regulations, including the requirement for GMP certification for manufacturers, guarantees high safety and quality standards. Imports are a key part of the first phase of the rollout, enabling rapid access to treatment while domestic crops expand.
The development of the medical cannabis market has the potential to significantly impact the Ukrainian economy, creating new business opportunities and contributing to increased innovation in the health sector. In the long term, it could also help improve the quality of life of patients with serious conditions by offering alternative treatments.
DISCLAIMER: This article was written by a third party contributor and does not reflect the opinion of Born2Invest, its management, staff or its associates. Please review our disclaimer for more information.
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First published in FaktyKonopne. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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