The Cabinet of Ministers, in its April 7 decree, excluded from the list of cannabis-based drugs, Nabilon and Nabiximols, from the list of cannabis-based drugs banned for circulation in Ukraine.
We will tell you what kind of drugs they are and who needs them, as well as understand why this decision does not really have the long-awaited "remission", which for many years has been sought by supporters of the legalization of medical cannabis.
What Cabinet allows
The turnover of two drugs based on cannabis. We are talking about a drug such as:
Nabilon is a synthetic cannabinoid that mimics the effects of THC, that is, tetrahydrocannabinol (the main psychoactive component of cannabis);
Nabiximols is a standardized cannabis extract with the same THC and cannabidiol content.
Now the circulation of these drugs is allowed in Ukraine, but only in the form of drugs or in the form of substances intended for the production and manufacture of drugs.
Also, by a government decree, isolated cannabidiol (the purest form of cannabidiol - one of the substances found in cannabis) is removed from state control.
According to open-source data, Nabilon is used to prevent/treat attacks of nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
Nabiximols is used to relieve pain and spasms associated with multiple sclerosis. It, unlike nabilon, which is a synthetic cannabinoid, contains natural components of hemp.
Why were Nabilon and Nabiximols allowed?
To meet the needs of society, as well as to improve the legislation regulating the circulation of drug-containing drugs in Ukraine. At least this reasoning is indicated in the explanatory note to the decision.
"By studying international and European experience, it has been established that the use of cannabinoids for medical purposes can effectively affect more than 50 painful conditions, and not a single drug with their content is registered in the State Register of Medicines of Ukraine," the government said.
Deputy Minister of Health, Chief Sanitary Doctor Viktor Lyashko explained the permission of these drugs by the fact that they primarily reduce pain for seriously ill patients.
In a commentary to RBC Ukraine, he said that the therapeutic use of drugs based on cannabinoids is effective, in particular, for cancer patients and palliative patients, children with epilepsy, patients with depression and anxiety, the military with the post-traumatic syndrome, people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.
MP from the Servant of the People faction, head of the parliamentary committee on finance, tax, and customs policy Danylo Getmantsev wrote in his Telegram channel that the Cabinet of Ministers has solved the problem of legalizing cannabis in Ukraine for medical purposes.
In this regard, the deputy expressed "respect" to the representatives of the government and praised that "the issue has not been resolved in the way that the dealers who dream of marijuana plantations with free circulation in the poorest country in Europe wanted."
In a commentary to RBC Ukraine, he said that the therapeutic use of drugs based on cannabinoids is effective, in particular, for cancer patients and palliative patients, children with epilepsy, patients with depression and anxiety, the military with post-traumatic syndrome, people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis.
In this regard, MP expressed "respect" to the representatives of the government and praised that "the issue has not been resolved in the way that the dealers who dream of marijuana plantations with free circulation in the poorest country in Europe wanted."
“This is just a slap in the face for all patients who hoped that medical cannabis would help them with pain, nausea, muscle spasticity, etc. To all parents of toddlers with epilepsy who need cannabis-based medicines. cannabis or drugs from it on the black market, at the risk of running into a low-quality product or a raid by the anti-narcotics department, or enduring unbearable pain," Dmytro Sherembey, chairman of the foundation, wrote in his column for Ukrainska Pravda.
According to him, Nabilon and Nabiximols, which were removed from the banned list, cost $ 2,055 and $ 640, respectively.
Head of the Ukrainian Association of Medical Cannabis, Hennadiy Shabas, on his Facebook page also announced the cost of Nabilon and Nabiksimols, asking a rhetorical question: will Ukrainian patients be able to afford them.
"I'm not sure the Minister of Health has studied this issue," said Shabas.
"Komsomolska Pravda" writes that the annual rate of "Nabiksimols" can cost 32,000 USD.
“These are not medicinal drugs, but supportive ones. If an adult or a child suffers from epilepsy, he must take them constantly in order to have a normal quality of life. An annual course of, for example, Nabiksimolsa can reach 32,000 USD. If the drug is brought to Ukraine, the cost will grow one and a half times,” neurophysiologist Dmytro Isaev assures.
Medical cannabis in Ukraine. Long story of the issue
Disputes over the need to legalize medical cannabis have been going on in Ukrainian society for several years. As you know, cannabis-based medications were completely (until that time) banned in the country, while drugs based on opiates, which are more harmful to the body, were allowed.
In May 2019, the Verkhovna Rada registered a bill regulating the use of cannabis in medicine and scientific research. The document was included in the parliament's agenda on July 6, but the deputies did not start considering it.
In August 2019, the former and. about. Minister of Health Ulyana Suprun said that Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov at one of the meetings of the Cabinet of Ministers blocked the legalization of medical cannabis, while the rest of the departments (the Security Service, the Ministry of Finance and others) approved it. Avakov himself noted that he voted against, as "it is not clear what is being proposed."
"This issue should be discussed professionally, with the participation of doctors, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, religious organizations, in order to figure out where there is a red line, beyond which we cannot go," the minister explained.
In September 2019, Suprun's successor Zoryana Skaletska said that the initiative to legalize medical cannabis "needs to be worked out in more detail." During her tenure as minister, this never happened.
The question of whether you support the legalization of medical cannabis in Ukraine to reduce pain in critically ill patients was brought up in the so-called all-Ukrainian poll by Volodymyr Zelensky during the local elections last year.
The President's Office explained that they decided to find out the opinion of the Ukrainians, because without this "the discussion could continue for many more years, without reaching the level of decision-making."
Officially, the results of this poll were not announced, however, the exit poll of the sociological group "Rating" showed that 70% of Ukrainians supported the legalization of cannabis for medical purposes to reduce pain in seriously ill patients.
In December 2019, the head of the Servant of the People faction, Davyd Arakhamia, said that the issue of legalizing medical cannabis could be resolved without the adoption of relevant law, but by acts of the Cabinet of Ministers, Ukrinform reports.
The Ministry of Health publicly supported this initiative, after which a special interdepartmental working group was created to improve regulatory legal acts in the field of trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, their analogs, and precursors.
In March of this year, Avakov stated that he was not against the legalization of cannabis-based medicines, and expressed the opinion that Ukraine was ready for this step. It is known that the April 7 decree of the Cabinet of Ministers was developed in cooperation with representatives of the National Police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.