• 17/04/2024 14:49

Half a step before legalizing medical cannabis

ByNatalia

Feb 19, 2024

Half a step for cannabis

Medical cannabis will become legal in Ukraine 6 months after the President signs the law adopted by the Council, but for now – it's locked

The Parliament of Ukraine adopted in the second reading a law on the legalization of medical cannabis. On December 21, 2023, parliamentarians by 248 votes adopted the Law of Ukraine “On regulating the circulation of plants of the genus hemp (Cannabis) for medical, industrial purposes, scientific and scientific-technical activities to create conditions for expanding patient access to the necessary treatment of cancer and post-traumatic stress disorders received as a result of the war.

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky publicly supported the legalization of medical cannabis long before this day – during a speech in the Verkhovna Rada on June 28, 2023. “In particular, we must finally fairly legalize cannabis-based medicines for everyone who needs it,” – he said then.

An active long-term struggle for the adoption of this law was carried out by public organizations that directly defended the rights of those for whom the law was developed: patients with cancer, Alzheimer's disease, glaucoma, epilepsy, post-traumatic syndrome and other serious illnesses.

Olga Stefanishina. Photo: Olga Stefanishina/Facebook

It seemed that the Law would be quickly signed by the President and patients would soon receive what they needed, but the Rodina faction blocked its signing by registering the corresponding draft resolution. It is now possible to unblock a law that is important for millions of people only by rejecting the draft of this resolution. One of the authors of the law, a member of the Committee on National Health, Medical Care and Medical Insurance, Olga Stefanishina, called such actions of her fellow deputies political manipulation and wrote on her Facebook: Friends, don’t panic. This is a standard and expected step. agony of UVT. In January we will overcome this too. Then we will wait for the President’s signature and move on – no turning back :)» 

Half a step before the legalization of medical cannabis

Inna Ivanenko, executive director«. Photo: patients.org.ua

As the executive director of the charitable foundation “Patients of Ukraine”(uniting 49 patient organizations) Inna Ivanenko told Ukrinform, her foundation has been fighting for the adoption of a law on medical cannabis for 6 years and all these years, about 2 million patients with severe chronic diseases (oncological diseases, epilepsy, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases, as well as other rare diseases) have legal access to serious opiates. But to medical cannabis, which does not even affect a person’s consciousness – No. Seriously ill children with epilepsy and cerebral palsy, suffering from muscle spasticity, are absolutely legally prescribed, in fact, hard drugs, and medications based on medical cannabis, which does not cause addiction or any consequences for the health of children – not prescribed. Because until recently, medical cannabis was prohibited in our country.

She hopes that the president will soon sign the law and six months after that, by-laws will be adopted that will launch the whole process so that drugs will immediately begin to enter Ukraine in ready-made forms. To grow medical cannabis in our country (which is also provided for by the adopted law), we need more time, in particular, to wait for the adoption of all the necessary regulatory legal acts of the Cabinet of Ministers and the relevant ministry, which will regulate the details of this process.

“We will not just wait for the President of Ukraine to sign the law and it will take effect, but as a public we will control this process so that it does not drag on and the work is actually carried out. Because, as our experience shows, to pass a law – This is still half the work, we need to make it work, it is very important not to relax and encourage officials to develop the necessary standards. The main work will begin when the law is signed, but now we will begin to discuss some issues with the relevant ministry about the regulations that they are going to prepare,” – noted the executive director of theCF “Patients of Ukraine”  Inna Ivanenko.

Half a step before the legalization of medical cannabis

Mikhail Radutsky, Chairman of the profile committee of the Verkhovna Rada

Gocalled the law very progressive, since Ukraine joined the family of modern European countries. At the same time, he says that Ukrainian law is stricter in terms of control than in European countries. In particular, each hemp bush, and then the inflorescences from which medical cannabis will be produced, will have a GPS tracker, and will be grown only in closed soil with mandatory video surveillance, including in cars that will transport raw materials. National police must be deployed to guard such premises and transport. 

Half a step before the legalization of medical cannabis

Victoria Romanyuk&&n ;Athena. Women against cancer”

Victoria Romanyuk, co-founder of the public organization “Athena. Women against cancer” In a comment to Ukrinform, she noted that cancer patients had been waiting for a very long time for the adoption of a law on the legalization of medical cannabis. After all, it can help such patients with nausea, insomnia, chronic pain, anxiety, because the news of an oncological diagnosis is an extraordinary stress for a person, and treatment is not easy, and to this is also added fear and anxiety due to missile strikes on cities and towns. selam. our country, suicide bombings, the losses that we are all experiencing now.

«Cannabis – this is another drug in the doctor’s arsenal, which, together with other medications, can help improve the quality of life for cancer patients. There are many symptoms that cannot be eliminated with available medications. And, unfortunately, sometimes patients had to resort to methods that are not legalThey were “criminals” in our state when they used cannabis. I don’t hide it, this happened… Because when a person is in pain or cannot sleep for several days, he will try anything to get back to normal, to improve the quality of his life. And medical cannabis helps with nausea, for sleep, even when other drugs do not help, relieves some types of pain or helps in combination with other opiate analgesics to eliminate pain, – noted Romanyuk.

Now in Ukraine, according to the registry, there are more than one million cancer patients. Some of them went abroad because of the war, some are afraid to return because we do not have all the available methods of pain relief. According to Romanyuk, the adoption of the law will be an incentive for their return, because patients will understand – they are protected and will have access to medical cannabis at home. 

“We are waiting for the President to sign the law. Then the government must develop certain regulations and the Ministry of Health – prepare protocols. I think these will be translations of protocols existing in European countries or America. Representatives of our organization are members of interdisciplinary working groups to create protocols for cancer treatment, so we are ready to participate in the work on these instructions. I know that it doesn’t happen quickly, but we are ready to wait, because we have been waiting for a very long time, – said the co-founder of the public organization “Athena”. Women against cancer” Victoria Romanyuk.

Ukrinform together with experts from the Patient Foundation of Ukraine collected important information about the law on legalization of medical cannabis: Why did medical cannabis need to be legalized?

Photo:  vinnitsaok.com.ua

  • Even before the full-scale invasion, more than 2 million seriously ill Ukrainians needed medicines based on medical cannabis. Now this figure is growing daily, in particular due to military and civilian casualties as a result of the war. According to preliminary calculations, about 6 million Ukrainians will need medicines based on medical cannabis. muscles, etc. After consuming medical cannabis, a person does not feel drug intoxicatedso they can also be prescribed to children, for example, those with epilepsy, without any problems.
  • Medical cannabis does not cause physical dependence. After that , once a person stops using medications based on medical cannabis, he will not feel bad from it.
  • Use of medical cannabisthis is normal world practicefor dozens of countries, including the EU, Canada, Great Britain and the United States. In general, medical cannabis is legalized in 56 countries and even… Russia. At the same time, medical cannabis is not legalized in China, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Chad, Cameroon and Ukraine. And, according to experts, patients in Israel and Germany have the best access to this medicine. ; changes to the List of Narcotic Substances. The law stipulates that the Cabinet of Ministers must amend the List of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursors (Resolution No. 770) and transfer cannabis, resins, extracts, cannabis tinctures and THC from Table I (drugs prohibited for circulation) to Table II (allowed for circulation ) under strict control).
  • Control over the production of drugs at all stages is provided– from seeds – to the drug in the patient's hands. For example, only licensed legal entities will be able to grow medical cannabis under 24-hour video surveillance. Each bush will be coded so that the movement of raw materials can be tracked.

What does the law on medical cannabis provide?

Photo: Depositphotos

  • Will allow seriously ill patients, veterans, people with PTSD to take medications based on medical cannabis as prescribed by a doctor or via an electronic prescription.
  • Doctors – write electronic prescriptions for medications based on medical cannabis.
  • Scientists – research cannabis and its derivatives, develop innovations in the field.
  • Business – grow hemp and produce medicines from them under strictly regulated licensing.

What does the law on medical cannabis NOT provide for?

  • Recreational use and sale of recreational cannabis.
  • Independent cultivation and uncontrolled trafficking of cannabis in the country.
  • Removal of criminal liability for the use and possession of recreational cannabis.

How will the patient receive medications?

  • Patients will receive medications exclusively with an electronic prescription from a doctoraccording to the indications. A list of diseases and indications for the use of medical cannabis will be developed by the Ministry of Health after the adoption of the law.
  • Patients can carry cannabis medicines with themtransport and store them in the amount determined by one prescription.
  • Similar systems operate in leading European countries.In particular, in Poland and Germany, patients receive treatment using the same mechanism – contact a doctor, the doctor, according to medical indications, writes an electronic or paper prescription for medical cannabis. After this, patients can buy the medicine from a licensed pharmacy.

Requiring only electronic prescriptions will not complicate access to obtain medical cannabis preparations?

  • No, now in the “Affordable Medicine” program For example, morphine is prescribed using an electronic prescription. Recently, when there was a problem with the Kyivstar connection, the National Health Service responded quite quickly and allowed other ways of writing a prescription. Now that the law has already been adopted, if any problems arise, it will be much easier to regulate them.&lbsp;

    • It is still difficult to talk about this, but those two drugs that were previously approved by resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine (dated April 7, 2021 No. 324) were quite expensive. about $900 and $2000, which was unaffordable for our people. Therefore, experts now have great hope in importing raw materials so that medicines can be produced in Ukraine and this will make them much cheaper. Plus, when the law comes into effect, perhaps some other ready-made forms of drugs will come to Ukraine -; the market will react and the medicines will become cheaper.
    • It is possible that part of the need for medical cannabis preparations will be provided by the state, as is the case with morphine, which is obtained by patients free of charge. 

    What changed between the first and second reading:

    • In particular, before the 1st reading there were fears that Ukraine would gain access to this medicine only after 5-7 years, becausethe first version of the bill prohibited the import of raw materials into Ukraine altogether. Between the 1st and 2nd readings, amendments were made and the import of raw materials was allowed, that is, immediately after the regulatory settlement, in parallel with the import of finished medicines, it will be possible to obtain raw materials and here produce your own medicines from the extract.
    • By the second reading, the rules for controlling the circulation of plants from which medical cannabis is produced, and medical cannabis itselfwere more clearly spelled out. The right to determine tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in liquid is reserved only to the state laboratories of the Scientific Research Forensic Center, subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Liability has also been removed from people who received cannabis-based medications using an electronic prescription. In addition, the Ministry of Agrarian Policy is obliged to maintain an electronic register of all producers who receive permission to grow plants with a THC content of more than 0.3%. The time frame within which the government must develop all by-laws is clearly defined, and the Ministry of Health – – create protocols.
    • More than 800 amendments were submitted to the bill, 200 of which were taken into account by the relevant committee.

    Lyubov Baziv.Kiev

    First photo: medicine.rayon.in.ua

    www.ukrinform.ua

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