Marijuana has been cultivated in turkey a long time ago. Evidence points out to early drawings on stones and in history books of the mention and illustration of cannabis. In this country of great food and tea, the use of hashish was a culturally accepted activity for many centuries. Hemp was grown in farms and recognized and valued for its various uses. but in the 1900s, Turkey and Egypt asked the Geneva International Convention on Narcotics Control to control the production of cannabis, including hemp in their respective countries. This led to the dwindling income generated from both hemp and cannabis. They were considered a nuisance and threat the public health.
But with the recent global acceptance of medical cannabis, a paradigm shift in viewpoint and opinion on cannabis occurred. When medical cannabis was introduced, cannabis was then recognized for its ability to treat identified disorders and relieve medical cannabis patients’ symptoms. The prevailing political bigwigs of Turkey at that time decided to allow the cultivation and production of hemp and its related by-products again. This was unanimously approved by most residents of Turkey.
Marijuana in Turkey
Recreational cannabis is considered illegal in Turkey. Possession and purchasing of marijuana are punishable by law and may lead to prison sentences as long as 5 years.
There are however some cannabis plantations that spring up once in a while. This is a perfectly normal occurrence as some farmers look at it as a lucrative small scale enterprise which they are willing to take the risk. Being illegal, the prices are rewarding. but getting caught will be another story as cultivation of weed is a crime also punishable by law and may have stricter penalties than possession. One recent incident even reported a seizure of 9 million cannabis plants and 1.2 tons of processed marijuana.
First-time offenders caught with possession of cannabis can opt to have their prosecution at a later date, and also, the prosecuting team has the option if they want to proceed with the prosecution. This means that all charges may be dropped by the prosecuting team for reasons that escape us. In the same manner, the prosecution team also has the option to go on with the prosecution even if the offender has requested for a postponement. This law applies to all citizens of Turkey as well as foreigners visiting the country. Foreigners are often caught with seed possession with Turkey being a popular tourist destination.
Being caught with possession or use of weed in Turkey can be very risky, as with all other countries outlawing the use of recreational weed. The law can be severe and penalties for those caught with possession of cannabis. Prison sentences will be for offenders found guilty of either possession or attempting to purchase marijuana. Sentences may range from two to five years of imprisonment.
First-time offenders can opt to have voluntary treatment instead of serving their sentence. They can also choose to be under probation instead of going to prison. Repeat offenders are not extended to this luxury. If the first time offender violates either treatment rules or fails to meet the probation requirements, the court may automatically issue a prison sentence. These are the risks of being caught. Better be safe and not get caught then.
Growing and Selling cannabis in Turkey
Cannabis production was allowed by the Government in 19 out of 81 of its provinces. All the cannabis farms are government-controlled and farmers must undergo an application process to be authorized to cultivate this plant. It is a strict requirement to throw all parts of the plant once it is harvested so its remaining parts could not be sold illegally as a psychoactive drug. Home cultivation is not allowed.
Turkey’s geographical location makes it a center for trading between the Middle East, Asia to Europe. Thus the government is strict in its policies regarding drug trafficking and severe penalties are in place. If caught importing or exporting cannabis, one is charged with a prison term of 20 to 30 years. Selling this illegal cannabis within the country will warrant a 10-year jail term if found guilty.
Medical cannabis in Turkey
Cannabis used for medicinal purposes is legal in Turkey. This requires a potential patient to have a prescription from a government registered Doctor. As of this writing, only imported Sativex and CBD oils are widely available in Turkey, but purchasing marijuana buds are illegal (regardless if they have a prescription or not). What is considered legal are weed identified by the government as medicinal, which has yet to be available as they only recently started cultivating cannabis locally.
As mentioned earlier, the cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes is allowed but regulated and monitored by the government. Expect locally produced medical cannabis to be available in turkey soon.
Hemp in Turkey
Industrial cannabis or commonly known as hemp has been grown in ancient Turkey. there has been archaeological evidence to prove that hemp was cultivated in a place called Anatolia in ancient Turkey.
There were over 35,000 acres of hemp being cultivated sometime in the early 1960s but since then, due to pressure from a lot of foreign countries, hemp production has been limited. As of 2016, there were only about 12 acres of legal cannabis in Turkey. but things will son change and expect an increase in cultivation and production with recently allowing industrial hemp to resume its production. this, however, will still have to be regulated and monitored by the Turkish government.
The new hemp farmers have to apply for a hemp growing license from the government. This license allows the farmers to grow industrial hemp for a certain period of time before they again have to apply for license renewal.
CBD in Turkey
CBD is legally allowed in Turkey. This cannabinoid, which is present in both the hemp and marijuana plant is the non-psychoactive compound that is responsible for the alleged medicinal effects of cannabis. Since this compound is not covered by any local laws, it is not considered illegal.
Only CBD products that do not contain any trace amount of THC (the psychoactive compound that makes the users high) are considered legal. CBD oils that contain even the minutest trace of THC is considered unlawful. So, CBD products cannot be used freely unless it comes with a prescription from a government registered Doctor. The irony of this all is that CD oils are all imported and some of these oils do not come cheap.
Turkey and cannabis’ future
It looks great from what we have been seeing so far. Turkey’s president has already allowed the cultivation of industrial cannabis, thus Turkish farmers are likely to make the most of this offer to plant hemp legally.
With regards to medical cannabis, this is fairly new to the country and there have been incidents when complaints on the accessibility of medical cannabis. We’re looking at this as “baby steps” to the growing acceptance and distribution of legal medical cannabis.
Recreational cannabis is not even discussed in Turkey. Being bordered by Asia and Europe, Turkey is recognized as of the major hubs in international market trade. Legalizing recreational cannabis will mean Turkey could be a potential smugglers hub for cannabis and other illegal drugs.