Kiev, July 13, 2023
On July 12, the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) issued a statement condemning the initiative to legalize medical cannabis.
The UCCRO, which includes representatives of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church as well as the schismatics, Uniates, Catholics, various Protestants and sectarians, and Jews and Muslims, emphasizes in its appeal that cannabis is a narcotic, with the same risks as other narcotics, and giving it “medical” status does nothing to change that.
“There is as much real treatment in the use of ‘medical cannabis’ as there is in ‘medical alcohol,’” the UCCRO states.
Recall that Ukrainian deputies first submitted a bill on legalizing medical marijuana in December 2020 after Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” gave his support to the project. Conversely, His Grace Bishop Sylvester of Belgorod, rector of the canonical Church’s Kiev Theological Seminary and Academy, said at the time that the medical marijuana is essentially a cover scheme for drug trafficking.
The Georgian Orthodox Church took the same stance when fighting the legalization of medical marijuana in 2018. The Holy Synod stated at that time that “permission to produce cannabis really means the legalization of drug trafficking, which will bring severe consequences to the country.”
And the UCCRO has taken a similar stance with its recent statement. “Cannabis is one of the most common and dangerous drugs in the world, and disguising it with the term ‘medical’ won’t reduce the threat it can cause to the health of the Ukrainian people,” the religious organization states.
To legalize cannabis during the war would be an especially “irresponsible and dangerous initiative,” as the state currently cannot spare the resources to properly control the narcotic raw materials and drugs that will come in in the event of that the relevant law is adopted.
Further, the UCCRO notes that there are legitimate medicines made on the basis of cannabis, but the draft law under consideration is more about simply legalizing the cultivation of raw cannabis and its production and sale in Ukraine.
Thus, the UCCRO calls on the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) and Cabinet of Ministers to withdraw Bill No. 7457, and to simply amend existing bylaws as necessary. And if the bill is adopted, the organization calls on President Zelensky to veto it.