The Hemp March of Freedom 2019 – Just Do It!
On October 26, Ukrainian activists held the “Hemp March of Freedom 2019 – Just Do It!” In Kyiv. The event was attended by about 500 people representing various public organizations.
Protesters urge the government to legalize medical cannabis
The march participants put forward two demands:
- lift the ban on the use of cannabinoids for medicinal purposes;
- increase the threshold between administrative and criminal liability for the illegal possession of marijuana from 5 to 25 grams.
Alina Priymak, a member of the Veterans for Medical Cannabis organization, said the action was aimed at attracting the attention of the authorities to the problem of hemp criminalization. According to public figures, the government is obliged to reform the legislation governing drug trafficking and the work of law enforcement agencies in the field of suppressing the illegal trade in illicit substances.
Ukraine is not yet ready for the legalization of hemp
Supporters of the ban on medical cannabis claim the plant can help 2 million patients suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, the effects of chemotherapy, epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease. The therapeutic potential of cannabinoids has been proven as a result of clinical trials, therefore, the substances contained in hemp are allowed to be taken as a medicine in many countries of the world.
In the spring of this year, Ukrainian deputies supported the petition for the legalization of medical cannabis and developed a law providing for the lifting of the ban on the use of cannabinoids for medicinal purposes. Nevertheless, the normative act was revoked on August 29 at the request of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In early October this year, parliamentarian Yevgenia Kravchuk announced that her colleagues from the Servant of the People party drafted a normative act on the legalization of medical hemp and were preparing to submit a document for consideration by the Verkhovna Rada.
On October 10, President Vladimir Zelensky denied Kravchuk’s statement and said that the faction did not register such an initiative. According to Zelensky, the idea of legalizing cannabis is not relevant for Ukraine, because the police are actively fighting the drugs. Vladimir noted that the issue of implementing the reform can only be considered after the successful completion of the war against illicit substances, while the government must first assess the risks and the readiness of society for radical changes.