Relief for Ukraine: Bringing medical cannabis to a nation affected by war

ukraine cannabis

There are many ways cannabis can help people deal with trauma. It has relaxation and anti-anxiety potential, helps with sleep, including the suppression of nightmares, may stimulate appetite, and address other symptoms of depression. These are the top reasons people in the US report using cannabis (in addition to pain management). 

And while this use stems from a variety of personal life experiences, sometimes, an entire country is subject to trauma, which necessitates a holistic and comprehensive approach. Such is the case in Ukraine. 

RELATED: Weed helped me quit cigarettes – and recognize my trauma

Since early 2022, Ukrainian people have been exposed to traumatic experiences. Feelings of anxiety, instability, and uncertainty have been a part of life for these communities, as has the trauma of war, loss, and the pain, both physical and mental, that comes from combat. As a result, the people of Ukraine are experiencing high levels of mental health symptoms. 

In response, President Zelensky has taken the progressive and courageous step to bring medical cannabis to the people of Ukraine. Understanding that access to this medicine may prevent longer-lasting scars, both physical and mental, for the people of his country.

Hope and healing

About nine months ago, I received an email from a gentleman in Ukraine. Viltaly, a businessman and Ukrainian citizen, was helping the Ministry of Health with the creation of a medical cannabis program. He had attended several of the webinars that I host for New Frontier Data and wanted to ask me some questions about the design and implementation of such a program. 

This started a friendship and series of meetings (with an amazing interpreter, Katarina) where we discussed what makes up a successful medical cannabis program, the process by which patients will access cannabis, and how to educate both doctors and citizens on the safe and effective use of cannabis as medicine. Then, in February of this year, the bill was signed into law by the President, with the program scheduled to begin in six months. 

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Vitaly (and, of course, Katarina was also present) for a podcast. We discussed the evolution of the medical cannabis bill, what the program will look like, and how it can help the people of Ukraine deal with the impacts of war. You can listen to the podcast here

In many ways, Ukraine’s program is an innovative and cutting-edge example of 21st-century healthcare. In the podcast, we discuss the process of designing and passing the new law and details of how the program will be implemented, including the use of telehealth and electronic records to coordinate patient access and the fact that cannabis will be made available in pharmacies vs. dispensaries—something I consider innovative compared to how medical cannabis is approached in the U.S.

I’m excited to share this intriguing and inspiring conversation and hope that the people of Ukraine will be impacted positively by adopting these laws.

This article was submitted by a guest contributor to GreenState. The author is solely responsible for the content.

amanda reiman

Dr. Reiman is a social worker who has been studying the relationships between people and psychoactive plants for 20+ years. Dubbed the “Dr. Ruth of cannabis”, Amanda’s superpower is taking complicated and stigmatized information and making it accessible to the masses. Quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Playboy and elsewhere, she is the trusted voice and conscience of the cannabis space. Her research focuses on the use of psychoactive plants in a harm reduction context and through her company, Personal Plants, she educates others around developing and maintaining healthy relationships with psychoactive plants. Amanda resides in Mendocino County, CA, in the famed Emerald Triangle and is a dedicated teacher, gardener, partner and dog and cat mom.