Why Ukrainian MPs fail to legalize medical cannabis again?

Author : Iryna Shostak

Source : 112 Ukraine

Why didn't the MPs support their own bill, and when will 2 million Ukrainian patients finally get access to the therapy they need?
22:40, 14 July 2021

Open source

Yesterday Zelensky convened an extraordinary session of parliament, where, among other urgent bills, the notorious initiative to legalize medical marijuana was put on the agenda.

Related: Cannabis plantation worth $ 2 million discovered in Kherson region

The document referred to the creation of a legal framework for the legal circulation of cannabis, which has so far been impossible (Ukrainian legislation defines marijuana as a particularly dangerous drug). He, of course, did not guarantee the purchase of drugs with cannabidiol for public funds, but he should have made it possible to write prescriptions and make drugs available in pharmacies.

It would seem that the political signal has been given. And since the idea of ​​legalizing medical cannabis in Ukraine was supported by 64% of the respondents, while 29% were against it, one could go to celebrate the victory. But initiative no. 5596 failed. The President, on the other hand, stayed away from possible expert battles. Like, he passed the pass correctly, but the responsibility for the goal is no longer in his competence.

Related: Marijuana for medical sse: Ukraine approves two cannabis-based medicines

Officials explain their decision by the danger of creating a black drug market.

"Is it possible to produce hemp in a country where half of the alcohol market is in the shadows, the anti-record of the shadow tobacco market has been set or not. I will say more, we are not opposed to allowing hemp production, as in Holland and Canada," Danylo Getmantsev, the head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Finance and Taxes, wrote.

According to a number of officials, the current drug control system cannot yet guarantee the cultivation of medical cannabis exclusively legally. And the bill contained a "tacit" consent to the trade and production of narcotic drugs, which would have exacerbated the situation.

The bill increased the content of the active drug TGK from 0.08 to 0.2%. Which, according to MP from the ruling faction Ihor Fris, is too much.

Related: Why Cabinet is delaying medical cannabis legalization in Ukraine

"The risk is too great. Firstly, on the black market it will be possible to sell just ordinary marijuana containing TGK under the guise of CBD (and this is no longer in the form of a herb, but in the form of oil and in other forms (ointments, creams, syrups), which are nothing do not differ in appearance, taste or smell.) And then the question arises, how can the police or regulatory authorities check the contents? And are they ready to check it? Control is too dubious," the MP assures.

The second risk group, according to him, is the high chances of corruption discrediting legalization. Effective control mechanisms are needed, which are not described or defined by this law.

In addition, the Main Scientific and Expert Directorate of the Verkhovna Rada in its conclusion to the initiative emphasized that some of its provisions contradicted the Constitution. Therefore, the whole idea of ​​"legalization" could be discredited after the fact.

In addition, the launch of the initiative would have taken place not earlier than the adoption of another accompanying document "within three months from the date of entry into force of this law." By that time, the acquisition, sale and production of drugs containing cannabinoids could be interpreted as a legal activity and at the same time as illegal. And given how "quickly" lawmakers pass and consider important bills, this transitional stage could drag on for a long time.

Related: Zelensky convenes parliament’s extraordinary meeting over cannabis legalization

"We are talking about the low quality of legislative activity. We are constantly faced with this: they adopt one law, and then they say that it is necessary to amend several laws and approve 50 more resolutions so that the bills can work and not contradict each other," Rostyslav Kravets, lawyer, notes.

The paradox is that two years ago Davyd Arahamia clearly spoke about the urgency of resolving the issue of legalizing medical cannabis, but on the eve of the vote, his certainty turned into support for the bill "with a high probability." Let us remind you that we are talking about an initiative in which he was a co-author.

Whatever the real reason for this inconsistency is: in the carelessness of the lawmakers themselves, who churn out bills one after the other without taking into account a number of technical issues, in the money that those in power can earn by keeping the medical cannabis in the "shadow", or in the absence of the strength to carry responsibility for the ambiguous political decision of legalization, such legislative "fluctuations" are reflected in patients not in the best way.

Related: Parliament fails to approve legalization of cannabis in Ukraine

A heated debate over the legalization of medical marijuana continues. The failed initiative has caused too much controversy and is partially discredited. A new bill and a new campaign are needed, and when the lawmakers "mature" for a new document is not clear. All this postpones life without pain for thousands of Ukrainian patients and, in particular, little Eva, who also needs medical marijuana treatment.

"My daughter could legally undergo treatment, doctors could officially diagnose it and check the concentration, find the best ratios. Now we give the drug dealers" from above "another 20% of its cost, but we could spend this money on rehabilitation and other necessary things," mother of the girl Nia Nickel sums up.

In the meantime, patients have to be content with a Cabinet resolution adopted in April. Legally, the document allows the use for medical purposes of three drugs containing synthetic cannabinoids and cannabis extract. In practice, none of them became available to Ukrainian patients.

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