What is the legal situation of cannabis in Ukraine? Renowned throughout the world for being home to Chernobyl, Ukraine is now trying to include the ghostly town of Pripyat on the UNESCO heritage list, next to some other landmarks of humanity, such as England’s Stonehenge or Greece’s Acropolis. But Pripyat is not the only cool place you can visit in Ukraine. As Europe’s largest country after neighbouring Russia, Ukraine offers a wide variety of unique attractions.
Related: The Legal Situation of Cannabis in Russia
But, as you lounge at one of Ukraine’s Black Sea resorts, you may be wondering if you would get in legal trouble for smoking weed. So, what is the legal status of cannabis in Ukraine? Read on to find out.
Drug laws in Ukraine
According to Ukraine’s current legal framework, the private use of drugs is not a crime. However, using drugs in public, in groups or near educational buildings as well as sporting or cultural places is a crime that’s punishable by up to three years of imprisonment.
Being caught in possession of a small amount of drugs without the intent to sell or distribute them is an administrative offence, but being caught in possession of more than a small amount of drugs is considered a crime, and it’s punishable by up to three years in prison even if there was no intent to sell or distribute.
A ministerial decree from the 1st of August 2000 sets the threshold quantity limits for drugs in Ukraine as follows:
|Narcotic drug||Small amount (g)||Large amount (g)||Extra large (g)|
|Cannabis herb||up to 5.0||from 500 to 2,500||anything over 2,500|
|Cannabis resin||up to 0.5||from 50 to 500||anything over 500|
|Cannabis extracts||up to 0.3||from 5 to 100||anything over 100|
|Opium||up to 0.1||from 50 to 250||anything over 250|
|Heroin||up to 0,005||from 1.0 to 10.0||anything over 10.0|
|Morphine||up to 0,01||from 0.1 to 1.0||anything over 1.0|
As you can see, there are huge differences between a small, a large and an extra-large amount of the same drug. You might be wondering what would happen if you were caught with more than 5 grams of cannabis but less than 500 grams. Would that classify as a small amount or a large one?
Well, that’s one of the problems international organisations often raise when talking about Ukraine’s drug laws. Law enforcement agents and prosecutors can interpret the law as they see fit when imposing criminal liability, so they can sometimes charge drug offenders too harshly.
Cannabis laws in Ukraine
Ukraine does not legally differentiate soft drugs from hard ones, but the threshold limits for cannabis are pretty permissive. In addition, law enforcement agents and judges tend to be more lenient with cannabis users than with other drug offenders.
Being caught with a small amount of cannabis usually leads to an administrative offence, but offenders may end up spending a night in prison with all that’s involved — getting their pictures taken, fingerprints checked, etc — if the arresting officer considers that the offender’s circumstances deem it necessary.
However, consuming cannabis in Ukraine is not as user-friendly as the laws make it seem. First of all, tourists should never consume cannabis in public because that can quickly turn an administrative offence into a criminal one. Being caught with cannabis near a school, church, town centre or even a gym can lead to severe repercussions.
In addition, corruption is still a problem in Ukraine, so some law enforcement agents may try to shake down unlucky tourists they catch smoking weed in order to get bribes. This can turn a 1,000 UAH fine (approximately €30) into an unpleasant ordeal that may ruin your vacation.
Growing cannabis is illegal in Ukraine and can lead to being imprisoned anywhere from three to 12 years, depending on the quantity of drugs seized, aggravating circumstances, etc.
Medical cannabis in Ukraine
Medical herbal cannabis is still inaccessible for most of the people living in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). But that might change, soon. In March 2019, a petition that gathered more than 25,000 signatures demanding the legalisation of medical cannabis was submitted to the Ukrainian Parliamentary Committee.
President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested postponing the legalisation of medical cannabis in Ukraine to a later date. However, the President initiated a national poll that took place alongside the country’s local elections on Oct. 25, 2020.
The poll showed that 65 percent of Ukrainians support the legalisation of medical cannabis for severely ill patients. However, the poll didn’t have any legal ramifications and was conducted in only 55 percent of the country’s polling stations, so it doesn’t necessarily reflect the true opinion of the country’s population.
Related: The 15 Best Countries for Medical Marijuana
When it comes to medical marijuana, things are definitely moving in the right direction. Recently, a Ukranian court acquitted a disabled person who was charged with illegal cultivation of cannabis after a two-year-long trial, which could indicate that the legislative opinion on this matter is changing for the better.
Hemp in Ukraine
Hemp has been cultivated in Ukraine for centuries. At the moment, industrial hemp cultivation is legal as long as the plants are used for seeds and fibres only. Growers have to get a hemp growing licence and cultivate only species that have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of up to 0.08 percent.
Hemp is not a popular crop in Ukraine, so not many farmers cultivate it. According to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine, there were only 490 kg of seeds and 1.5 metric tons of hemp straw extracted in 2019.
CBD in Ukraine
Cannabidiol (CBD) products are legal in Ukraine if their THC concentration is lower than 0.08 percent.
It is currently illegal to process hemp for CBD extraction. There are some local food processors who use hemp seeds in different food products which are sometimes marked as CBD products, but there is no CBD production in the country.
The future of cannabis in Ukraine
Cannabis seems to be an active topic in Ukraine’s political scene, which is always a good thing. When regular citizens and lawmakers focus on a topic, things tend to change faster.
As things stand now, the future of cannabis in Ukraine seems pretty promising: possession of small quantities is decriminalised, and the country is about to launch its first medical marijuana program in the following years. The best is yet to come for Ukranian cannabis users.