Ukrainian Ministry of Health calls for relaxation of cannabis laws to facilitate medical use

In July 2022, the Ukrainian Ministry of Health (Ministry of Health) published for public discussion a draft government resolution (“Draft resolution”) aimed at relaxing the current cannabis legislation in Ukraine in order to facilitate the medical use of cannabis products.

The Ministry of Health proposes to amend the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No. 770 (2000), which lists the lists of controlled psychoactive and narcotic substances.

For several years, the regulation of medical cannabis has been an important but contested issue on the Ukrainian political agenda. The large-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine has only heightened the importance of this topic as the pool of potential users of medical cannabis (for pain relief, PTSD, etc.) has grown. multiplied and the trend does not seem to change. The draft resolution is the second initiative launched in recent months (alongside Bill No. 7457) which aims to improve the situation.

Here are the main changes proposed in the draft resolution.

Enable the movement of cannabis, cannabis resin, extracts and tinctures for medical and scientific purposes

One of the biggest issues surrounding the use of cannabis for medical purposes in Ukraine is the classification of cannabis, cannabis resin, extracts and tinctures as particularly dangerous and completely prohibited by Ukrainian legislation. Although there are several cannabis-derived substances for which limited circulation is permitted (e.g. dronabinol, nabilone, nabiximols and CBD isolate), the blanket ban on cannabis use has created a legal uncertainty, which has considerably hampered the development of this market. Although the draft resolution does not reschedule cannabis, cannabis resin, extracts and tinctures, it expressly authorizes their use for medical and scientific purposes. Medical use is permitted only in the form of drugs or active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Authorize THC for medical and scientific purposes

In another potential positive development, the Department of Health is proposing to allow the cannabis compound THC to be used for scientific purposes, as well as to allow the use of pharmaceutical products containing THC for medical purposes. Currently, Ukraine only allows circulation in the form of drugs of the following substances containing THC: dronabinol and nabiximols, as well as nabilone which mimics the effect of THC. The draft states that dronabinol, nabilone and nabiximols can also be used for scientific purposes in any form.

Finally, with regard to medical use, the draft expressly authorizes the cultivation of cannabis plants for medical purposes and removes the threshold of 0.08% for the THC content authorized in this regard. Currently, the only option allowed is the cultivation of hemp for industrial (non-medical) use.

Defining CBD as an uncontrolled substance

Current legislation defines CBD isolate only as an uncontrolled substance. If the draft resolution passes, cannabidiol in general will be removed from state control, potentially creating the opportunity to market various CBD products in Ukraine. The draft does not foresee any specific restrictions on the use of cannabidiol (eg for medical, food, cosmetic purposes, etc.).

Maria J. Book