Ukraine Legalizes Marijuana Amid War With Russia

Ukraine’s parliament has voted to legalize medical marijuana that may be used to treat conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by the ongoing war with Russia.

The new law was passed by 248 votes in the 401-seat parliament in Kyiv and will come into effect next year.

The bill also allows the use of cannabis for industrial and scientific purposes, while recreational marijuana use continues to be considered a crime, Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian Service reports.

Discussions about the legalization of medical cannabis in Ukraine resurfaced after Russia launched a full-scale unprovoked invasion in February 2022.

At least 10,000 civilians, including over 560 children, have been killed, and more than 18,500 have been injured, according to the United Nations (UN) report published in November.

Kyiv treats the number of soldiers killed in the war as state secret, but it can be as high as 70,000, the New York Times reported in August, citing American officials.

While thousands of others are left wounded, the damage inflicted by the war goes beyond physical scars.

The UN investigators in Ukraine documented widespread sexual violence, as Russian soldiers raped women aged ranging from 19 to 83 years, often keeping family members in the next room, forced to hear violations taking place.

The UN report indicates the “widespread and systematic” use of torture, sometimes leading to death, by Russian armed forces against people accused of being informants of the Ukrainian military.

Is marijuana effective for PTSD?

Some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event develop PTSD. The disorder is common among combat veterans and people who have experienced or witnessed a physical or sexual assault or abuse.

While PTSD is generally treated with psychotherapy and antidepressant medication, some studies show marijuana could help alleviate PTSD symptoms. However, the findings remain inconclusive.

A 2020 study looked at how THC, a psychoactive marijuana component, affects the amygdala — the brain region responsible for emotional processing — response in people with trauma-related anxiety. It found that taking low doses of THC reduced fear and anxiety in fear-triggering situations.

Another study suggests that in both healthy individuals and PTSD patients, THC can help to make trauma-related memories less intense.

A small study of 14 former soldiers with treatment-resistant PTSD found medical marijuana helped to improve sleep quality and duration, as well as symptoms such as intrusiveness, avoidance, and alertness.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, new methods are necessary to deal with the physical and psychological traumas inflicted by the war.


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