Leafly Article: How cannabis helps some Ukrainians persist amid war

Tia Moskalenko is a 28-year-old Ukrainian woman and cannabis professional living in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she works as the communications manager for the platform, AskGrowers. AskGrowers strives to provide detailed information and education about brands, manufacturers, and growers for consumers.

Moskalenko is like many people in the cannabis industry – working to provide accurate, reliable information about a plant she believes in. But since early 2022, Moskalenko has had a front-row seat to a category of hardship that some may not be familiar with — the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Since February 24, 2022, Ukraine has been defending itself from Russia, its neighbor to the north and east, and unfortunately, the intensity has only increased in the months since. And though nearly eight million Ukrainians have immigrated to other places to find a greater sense of safety, some, such as Moskalenko, have chosen to stay and bear witness to the realities of war as they unfold.

Moskalenko sat down with Leafly to discuss life in Ukraine in 2022 and the past and future of cannabis in her country.

The perception of cannabis in Ukraine

“The popularity of cannabis in Ukraine happened a long time before the war started,” Moskalenko says. “But I think the war is one of the reasons that people are turning to cannabis … we all believe that cannabis helps with PTSD, as well as some other mental [health] disorders.”

Though Moskalenko is careful to be clear that cannabis may not help with every disorder, she’s confident in her knowledge of how cannabis can provide relief to herself and those around her.

“It helps you to relax, to forget about everything bad that’s going on,” she said.

And when it comes to living in wartime, relaxation is no small matter. Moskalenko speaks of how just hours before the interview began, the sound of nearby shellings had startled and woken her and her partner just that morning.

“For a moment, I thought that was my last seconds of life,” Moskalenko said with a humorless laugh. “We really heard the rocket near our home, and it was like, okay, that might hit our house right now, our building. Even my cats were shocked.”

She continued, “So at that moment, you think, Jesus, you need to relax at least somehow. It really ruins the whole day. It really ruins all your work because you can’t think about work when something like this is going on. You need to [be able to] run away to the shelters.”

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