Medical cannabis in Ukraine: cultivation licensing and legal regulations
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By now, almost everyone is aware of the high-profile bill aimed at legalizing medical cannabis. This legalization not only offers new possibilities for individuals with chronic conditions but also fosters the development of scientific research and medical technologies. However, such a step necessitates proper legal regulations and guidelines for the cultivation, production, and distribution of medical cannabis.
Let's take a closer look at the essence of this bill and explore whether there are valid reasons for concerns regarding the potential transformation of Ukrainian fields into hemp plantations, a fear voiced by opponents of this initiative.
What does the legalization of medical cannabis entail?
- The ability for doctors to prescribe medications containing cannabis to patients who require them, with patients receiving such medications by prescription.
- The possibility to travel abroad with such medication, provided it is accompanied by the necessary documents including a diagnosis and prescription (although the entry regulations of specific countries remain uncertain).
- The opportunity for private legal entities to cultivate hemp for the production of medicines.
Now, let's focus on the last point, specifically the intricacies of cultivating medical-purpose hemp. But first, let's clarify what the term "medical cannabis" encompasses.
What is medical cannabis?
Cannabis contains many psychoactive compounds, but in the field of medicine, only cannabidiol and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are utilized.
Currently, cannabis, along with its resin and extracts, is categorized as a Schedule I substance in Table I of the List of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances, and Precursors. In essence, this means it is listed as a highly dangerous narcotic with restricted circulation.
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Cultivating cannabis in Ukraine for industrial and medical purposes
Cultivating cannabis in Ukraine for industrial purposes is indeed feasible. However, it is essential to use seeds from hemp varieties with less than 0.08% THC in dry weight (straw). Currently, Ukraine lacks legislative regulations for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
Is there a way for those interested in growing medical cannabis to prepare?
Let's examine the existing licensing conditions.
Quotas. For instance, cultivating plants categorized under Number 3 in Table 1 of the List of Narcotic Drugs (narcotic drugs with restricted distribution) is currently restricted to established quotas set by the Cabinet of Ministers. Likely, the cultivation of medical cannabis by private individuals will also be subject to these quotas. In other words, they won't be able to sow all private fields for anyone who obtains relevant licenses.
Using officially approved and registered seed varieties. Cultivating these plants is only permitted by sowing seeds from hemp varieties listed in Ukraine's Plant Variety Register. This typically involves purchasing seeds from licensed producers who have agreements with seed and nursery providers registered in the State Register of Seed and Planting Material Producers.
Cultivating only those varieties with a specified THC content. For instance, hemp cultivation for industrial purposes is allowed only if the seeds used come from plant varieties with dried straw containing no more than 0.08% THC. Likely, a specific THC content limit will also be defined for the cultivation of medical cannabis.
Proper security measures. Fields where hemp is grown must have adequate security in place. This can be provided either by dedicated personnel or through agreements with security service providers.
Pharmacies planning to sell cannabis-based medications must secure an additional license. This isn't entirely new, as pharmacies that dispense drugs containing narcotic and/or psychotropic substances are required to obtain an additional license for handling narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, and precursors.
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Find more information on the cost and steps for obtaining a license for narcotic drugs here.