Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday called on lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis, saying the treatment could provide relief to those in the country suffering from the “trauma of war.”
Zelensky made the comments in an address before his country’s parliament.
“We must finally fairly legalize cannabis-based medicines for all those who need them, with appropriate scientific research and controlled Ukrainian production,” Zelensky said, as quoted by UPI.
“All the world’s best practices, all the most effective policies, all the solutions, no matter how difficult or unusual they may seem to us, must be applied to Ukraine so that Ukrainians, all our citizens, do not have to endure the pain, stress and trauma of war,” he added, according to the news organization.
Russia invaded and subsequently occupied parts of Ukraine last year, marking a bloody and costly escalation of the hostilities between the two countries. In April, Reuters, citing a “trove of purported U.S. intelligence documents” that had been published online, estimated that as many as “354,000 Russian and Ukrainian soldiers have been killed or injured in the Ukraine war.”
As UPI noted, “Zelensky’s support for medical cannabis legalization also remains consistent as evidenced in 2019, during his presidential campaign, when he said it would be ‘normal’ to allow people to access cannabis ‘droplets.’”
Zelensky’s comments on Wednesday also echo what his cabinet has said recently.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s Health Minister Viktor Liashko said in a Facebook post that the government had put forward legislation to legalize medical cannabis treatment. In the post, Liashko invoked the ongoing war with Russia as a reason to make the treatment available.
“We understand the negative consequences of the war on the mental health camp,” Liashko wrote in the Facebook post. “We understand the number of people who will require medical treatment in the last breath.”
“Cannabis drugs are not ‘competitors’ to drugs, and measures to regulate their circulation are completely different. Medical cannabis contains cannabidiol, which has no pronounced psychoactive effect, so it’s not suitable for recreational use,“ Liashko continued. “To that, at the same time, we were prepared by the legislator for the preparation of a new cycle of production of preparations based on cannabis in Ukraine: from the development of that processing to full production.”
In the first month of Russia’s invasion last year, a number of cannabis companies in the United States stepped up to provide financial support to Ukraine.
MediThrive CEO Misha Breyburg donated proceeds from weed sales to a charity providing aid to Ukrainians. Breyburg also had the MediThrive dispensary in San Francisco’s Mission District painted in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine hits home for the founders of MediThrive. CEO Misha Breyburg and his colleagues are Ukrainian Jewish refugees who immigrated from Odessa, Ukraine to the United States as children in the 1970s,” the company said in a statement at the time. “MediThrive believes that everyone should have access to medicine and quality health care. The Medi in our name tells of our humble beginning as a medical cannabis dispensary that filled the cannabis prescriptions of cancer and AIDS patients. In the 1990s, the dispensary opened its doors to patients under the United State’s Compassionate Care Act. We are the oldest cannabis dispensary and delivery service location in San Francisco. Today, we are more than just a medical and recreational cannabis provider; our roots run deep in our community.”