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Ukraine joins global cannabis community

Mar. 07, 2024 by SOMAÍ

Now that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has signed a law opening access to medical cannabis, Ukraine has joined a list of emerging countries that recognize the benefits of this plant for their people, writes Michael Sassano, CEO and founder of SOMAÍ Pharmaceuticals.

Recently, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have concluded that cannabis is safe and medically viable for at least 15 indications. The World Health Organization (WHO) also recognizes the medical and therapeutic value of cannabis. The WHO estimates there could be 7 million people in Ukraine suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and pain who could benefit from safer access to cannabis. The Ukrainian parliament and health departments seem to have agreed. 

Lessons to Learn from Ukrainian Cannabis Laws

While the benefits of cannabis for issues like PTSD for Ukrainian citizens are obvious, it’s also difficult to imagine adopting this law while so much is going on in the country.

Other countries that are taking every excuse not to advance access to cannabis can learn a lesson from Ukraine’s example. The U.S. is still debating moving cannabis to Schedule III, and Germany has only just removed the narcotic label from cannabis. Meanwhile, Ukraine succeeded in moving cannabis from List 1 (similar to the U.S. Schedule I) to List 2, which offers distribution with strict control. The country began the legalization process in June of 2022 and was able to pass this law in the midst of a war to benefit its population through access to cannabis.

With all these potential global changes, countries like Ukraine are cutting through the red tape to help their population more effectively.

Worldwide Support for Medical Cannabis in Ukraine

Even though the law is not expected to go into practice for another six months, global medical cannabis players are lining up to help Ukrainians gain access to high-quality medicinal cannabis.

  • Scientists and advocates from veteran organizations around the world are eager to gain more data about the effects of cannabis on PTSD. 
  • Poland, a neighbor of Ukraine, also has a booming cannabis access program in place. The country seeks to share its start-up knowledge with Ukraine. 
  • Distributors in Germany want to help with the necessary infrastructure to import medical cannabis. 
  • Producers in Portugal want to aid by helping provide the best European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP) products available. 

The cannabis community wants to bring cannabis to help people in need, and Ukraine will be the newest outreach for growers and manufacturers. As Ukraine joins the medical cannabis community, there will undoubtedly be an outpouring of help to bring relief to its people.

Next Steps for the Ukrainian Cannabis Industry

So, what will happen in Ukraine once the law goes into effect? 

For the first few years, Ukraine will be an import market. Importing their cannabis products will allow them to provide their patients with the best medicinal cannabis products available from around the globe. 

Ukrainian Cannabis Infrastructure Will Borrow Polish Practices

Ukraine’s access framework will likely be similar to Poland’s. Poland largely follows the German market for regulations but has its own entrepreneurial expansion. 

Culturally, Ukraine has more cultural similarities to Poland than Germany. This means that although the countries all follow similar quality standards, Ukraine’s pharmacy dispensing standards, controlled distribution standards, prescribing mentalities, and citizen expectations will more closely resemble Poland’s market movements. 

Ukraine Will Rely on an Agricultural and Scientific Approach to Cannabis

Ukraine will likely also have a sizeable domestically grown cannabis market. This will take some years to get going, but given Ukraine’s history of farming and rich soils, we can expect a large local growing market in the future. 

Ukraine’s new laws favor medical research, so scientific and academic groups are united to monitor the medical benefits of cannabis. 

Ukraine has all the foundation blocks to begin its cannabis industry today and develop its own products and infrastructure as the market develops.

Ukraine and the Global Future of Cannabis

The global cannabis community welcomes Ukraine and proudly supports the dawn of its cannabis industry. As more countries move toward cannabis legalization, they will look to both large market movers and bold smaller countries that have accepted a commonly known truth: cannabis provides a potential medicine and a safer alternative to many conventional pharmaceuticals. 

If Ukraine can find the will to advance cannabis laws, so can these other politicians and health professionals around the world who have been claiming that cannabis legalization is a low-priority issue. There should be one priority: to provide the people of each country with safer alternatives to status-quo pharmaceuticals. Cannabis has proven over and over to be the right choice.