A project to legalize medical cannabis in Ukraine, which was due to be put to a vote, has met with resistance from opposition parties. Despite the support of President Volodymyr Zelensky and considerable public support, the project faced a significant obstacle in the form of hundreds of submitted amendments that blocked its progress.
A historic vote on medical cannabis reform was planned in Ukraine’s unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. However, progress on the bill was blocked by a deluge of amendments to “exhaust” the legislative process.
Members of the “Fatherland” party submitted more than 800 amendments, aiming to prolong debates and prevent the bill from being passed. MP Olga Stefanyshina described these actions as an attempt to stall time and prevent the law from being passed.
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The hurdles of cannabis legalization in Ukraine
Stefanyshina criticized the futility of the situation, stressing that the proposed changes are nothing more than “spam” and have no substantive value. The bill was intended to create a national medical cannabis program to provide access to it for patients with conditions such as cancer or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from war. The bill takes on particular importance amid the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine, strengthening the argument for alternative treatments for those suffering from the traumas of war.
“The bill on medical cannabis was blocked in the Council. These piles of papers represent 882 amendments by MPs, which we analyzed for more than three months. We included the most sensible ones, and I thank my colleagues for being constructive. Hours of negotiations with farmers, police, the public, and MPs. We have made it so that the law will be effective immediately after the government passes all the implementing regulations, and so that patients will be able to get medicine and ease their pain as early as next year. “
“But 226 of these amendments are garbage. They are the amendments of the “Fatherland” party. […] That’s more than 400 minutes of Council time, and actually 2 days of a completely meaningless spectacle: when amendments are put to a vote just to drag out time and not allow the bill to pass the chamber. We are looking for a solution and ask for your support! Let’s finish this,” Olga Stefanyshina wrote on Facebook.
Zelenski is for cannabis legalization in Ukraine
President Zelenski has been an advocate of legalizing medical cannabis, stressing the need to adopt “world best practices” and legalize cannabis-based medicine. During a speech to parliament in June, he pointed out the need for these solutions in Ukraine so that citizens do not have to endure the pain, stress, and trauma of war.
Although the bill was passed on its first reading in July and approved by the National Health, Medical Care and Health Insurance Commission in October, its final reading was postponed indefinitely. Despite the support of the president and the public, resistance from opposition parties, particularly the Fatherland party, is hampering the bill’s progress.
Opponents of the bill are using time-consuming legislative tactics to delay its passage. These actions include submitting hundreds of amendments that are technical in nature and lack substance, which are nothing more than an attempt to stall time and prevent the bill from being passed.
Changes in Ukraine’s medical cannabis policy could be a stark contrast to the policies of Russia, which has long taken a stance against reform in this area internationally, including by the United Nations.
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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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