Ukrainian War Veterans Get Better Treatment Than US Military Veterans? – Ukrainian Vets to Get Access to Cannabis

July 21, 2023 ·

Ukraine is on the verge of legalizing medical cannabis, primarily relieving war veterans suffering from physical and mental trauma. The UK Telegraph reports that the marijuana bill has passed its initial reading, garnering overwhelming support from 268 out of 344 lawmakers. The legislation awaits a second reading before it reaches President Volodymyr Zelensky for final approval.

The recent development reported by The Telegraph indicates a profound shift in public attitudes towards marijuana following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Unlike the year 2021, when a similar bill was quickly rejected, there is now recognition of cannabis as a credible substitute for traditional prescription medications in addressing the physical and mental struggles endured by many soldiers and civilians affected by the war.

Although the numbers for Ukrainian casualties are still unknown, it is assumed that they are less than the 200,000 Russian soldiers thought to have been killed or injured. US intelligence materials leaked in April put the number of casualties among Ukrainian forces between 124,500 and 131,000 by February, including up to 17,500 combat deaths.

Legalizing medical marijuana is supported by the claim that it can effectively treat pain and PTSD symptoms, frequently proving to be a safer alternative to prescribed opiates. According to a World Health Organization research from February, the war may have caused depression or PTSD in about 25% of the Ukrainian populace and 60% of its military. The report also mentioned how trauma unit capacity expansion has taken precedence over mental health care in the nation.

Pushing for Cannabis Legalization in the Parliament

In a speech before the Ukrainian Parliament last month, President Volodymyr Zelensky underlined the significance of adopting the best global practices and effective policies, regardless of how difficult or unconventional they may seem. He aims to protect the Ukrainian population, encompassing all citizens, from the hardships, stress, and trauma inflicted by war.

Specifically, President Zelensky highlighted the need to legalize cannabis-based medicines fairly and regulate those requiring them. He stressed the importance of conducting appropriate scientific research and establishing controlled production within Ukraine. Ukrainska Pravda first covered the report.

The president emphasized that granting access to medical cannabis could offer a therapeutic alternative for citizens who have endured over a year of intense conflict since Russia’s initial invasion of the country in February 2022.

Even during his presidential campaign, Zelensky expressed his backing for legalizing medical cannabis. In 2019, he stated that he believed it would be “normal” to allow people to utilize cannabis “droplets,” potentially referring to marijuana tinctures.

More Actions from Zelensky’s Cabinet

President Zelensky’s Cabinet made a landmark decision that would help Ukraine legalize medical marijuana. In a momentous decision last year, they took a historic step by approving a draft reform legislation now under the Parliament’s consideration. This progressive action can revolutionize healthcare nationwide and open new possibilities for patients seeking complementary therapies.

The new legislation, led by Minister of Healthcare Viktor Liashko, offers enormous hope for people with chronic illnesses, including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought on by the devastation of war. The government wants to foster a climate that will improve patient access to necessary therapies by allowing the controlled circulation of cannabis plants for scientific, industrial, medicinal, and scientific-technical objectives.

Minister Liashko’s profound understanding of the detrimental impact of war on mental health underscores the critical urgency to address any potential aftermath of combat. It is impossible to emphasize the effect of war on people’s psychological health. This is why many people are anticipated to need specialist medical care. As a result, the government is still committed to ensuring patients have access to proven and alternative treatments.

He claimed that the authorities know how bad war is for mental health. Due to these effects, the government is aware of the sizable population needing medical care. There is an immediate urgency to take action.

Opposition From Russia

The proposed change in policy would set Ukraine apart from its longtime foe, Russia, who has vehemently resisted any changes to cannabis laws on the international stage, particularly within the United Nations. The move to make marijuana legal nationwide in Canada has drawn criticism from Russia.

As per a social media post from the official account of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia, the deputy expressed significant apprehension regarding the legalization efforts in the United States and Canada. The actions of certain European Union Member States considering potential breaches of their drug control obligations are also a cause for concern.

Meanwhile, Congressmen in the US are working harder to persuade the Biden administration to act swiftly to secure the release of Marc Fogel, an American citizen. Fogel is currently incarcerated in Russia, serving a 14-year term for carrying medical marijuana, which he could legally get in Pennsylvania as a registered patient.

According to a press release by Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) on Tuesday, Marc Fogel is currently serving a harsh 14-year sentence involving hard labour for possessing medical marijuana, which he used to manage his severe back injury. This situation resembles WNBA player Brittney Griner, who also faced imprisonment in a Russian jail for possessing cannabis oil that she legally obtained as a medical marijuana patient in Arizona.

Rep. Reschenthaler introduced a new bill that would mandate the State Department to explain why individuals like Fogel and other detained Americans have not been officially designated as “wrongfully detained.” This designation is crucial as it would enable escalated diplomatic efforts to secure their release.

In contrast to Fogel’s situation, Brittney Griner was fortunate enough to be recognized by the State Department as wrongfully detained. Consequently, she was released from imprisonment as part of a prisoner swap, which the Biden administration successfully negotiated.


Ukraine’s journey towards legalizing medical cannabis is poised to offer much-needed relief to war veterans and civilians grappling with physical and mental trauma resulting from the conflict. The recent progress in the Ukrainian Parliament, where the marijuana bill received overwhelming support, signals a significant shift in public attitudes towards cannabis.

President Zelensky’s commitment to adopting effective policies, combined with the Cabinet’s landmark decision to pursue cannabis reform, offers hope for improved healthcare and access to alternative therapies for patients in need. While opposition from Russia remains, Ukraine is taking strides towards addressing the well-being of its citizens affected by war-related trauma. The move towards legalization reflects a growing understanding of the potential benefits of medical cannabis in managing pain and PTSD, marking a positive step in addressing the challenges those impacted by the conflict face. (Full Story)

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