If you think European countries are open with things concerning cannabis, then exclude Turkey from that list. Ok technically, Turkey is mainly in Asia, but still. Using, possessing, receiving, or purchasing weed in Turkey may lead to 2-5 years of imprisonment, provided it’s deemed for personal use. The jail time highly varies, but the bottom line is: in Turkey, possession of weed is considered a crime.
Legalizing cannabis for recreational use in Turkey may be a far fetched idea for now, but hopefully, it will take a turn in the coming years. President Erdogan has certainly voiced his support for cannabis lately.
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Weed Laws in Turkey
Drug possession for personal use is regulated under the laws of Turkey. It is mandated in three separate Articles, namely:
- Article 188 (Production and Trade of Narcotics)
- Article 190 (Facilitating Use of Narcotics)
- Article 191 (Purchase, Receipt or Possession of Narcotics for Personal Use)
Under Article 188, any person producing, importing, or exporting narcotics or psychotropics can face between twenty to thirty years in prison. People selling, or simply offering to sell, they can face a minimum of 10 years behind bars.
Under Article 190 it states that any person facilitating the use of narcotics or psychotropics, such as providing equipment or advice on usage, will be sentenced to 5 to 10 years. Now I’m not a lawyer, but it sounds like giving a friend a bong to use, or telling them how to use one would fall under this category.
Under Article 191, using, possessing, buying, or receiving cannabis will result in prison from 2 to 5 years.
There are no excuses when you’re caught in the act, and there are no exemptions from the law, even for tourists. In other European countries, they may be a little forgiving to tourists because they don’t know the local regulations. But in Turkey, ignorance of the law isn’t considered a good excuse.
Turkey has a tough stance against marijuana possession and use, but there’s a way that you might make your sentence a little bit lighter compared to getting slapped with criminal charges. The EMCDDA states that you can opt for rehabilitation or “treatment” before the investigation. This probation period takes at least a year.
Hemp Production in Turkey
People have been growing hemp in the Middle-East for centuries. It’s a staple crop for them, with cultivation techniques that can date back to 1500 B.C. There was even a time when Turkey was the lead grower of hemp in the world. But all of this suddenly took a turn when the U.S. forcibly inhibited the production of cannabis and put it under strict control and supervision in 1971.
The penalties in Turkey are much more severe than that of other European countries because of its location. Turkey is a “gateway” from the Middle-East to Europe and is surrounded by drug-producing nations. The government takes a lot more liability when narcotics are illegally transported through that gateway. That’s one of the reasons why they are so strict with their laws and the penalties.
However, throughout the years, cannabis has been slowly creeping its way back into legality. In 2016, the Turkish government legalized controlled hemp production. This means that the production of hemp in 19 controlled provinces is now allowed. The provinces, in alphabetical order, are:
Although 19 provinces sounds like a lot, Turkey has 81 provinces in total. With this, Turkey has once again joined the list of the world’s largest hemp producers for industrial use.
This new regulation allows farmers to grow cannabis after getting a license from the government. This license is valid for three years under the full surveillance of the government. The cannabis produced in these “farms” is mainly for industrial use. Who knows, maybe a bud here and there slips under the government’s noses from time to time.
Medical Marijuana in Turkey
Being one of the most industrially advanced countries in the region, we can at least assume that Turkey is moving towards the legalization of medical marijuana. True enough, they started to take action in late 2016. Now, patients who need medical marijuana can have access to cannabis sprays, provided that they have a prescription from their physicians.
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Cannabis as a medication is still heavily controlled by the state. That’s why authorized doctors are the only ones allowed to dispense medical cannabis products. You’ll be able to access cannabis-based products only after trying other treatments without success.
Although this was legalized way back in 2016, the use of cannabis for medical purposes in Turkey is still not as widely accepted compared to their neighboring countries. But President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says otherwise in an interview. He wants to revive the cannabis industry because he sees its potential.
Weed in the Future in Turkey
As people become more lenient when it comes to weed in Turkey, the chance to develop cannabis in this country is high. Turkish farmers are even encouraged to start planting hemp for industrial use (although hemp is different, it’s a step towards legalization). The future of cannabis in Turkey is bright, and people are slowly accepting that it’s not as bad as the other drugs it’s categorized with. More and more people see that the plant has multiple benefits.
As for CBD (cannabidiol), it’s in a legal grey area in Turkey. This means that CBD is neither legal nor illegal (or both) because of the lack of laws concerning CBD. But when it comes to the medicinal use of cannabis, although the plans are new, the future is promising.
On the topic of recreational use of cannabis, most people don’t even bat an eye. Because of its geographical location – being the bridge between Europe and Asia – legalizing recreational use of cannabis may be problematic.
On the bright side, President Erdogan’s initiative to bring back the hemp industry is a gigantic leap for the country. People are starting to see the economic importance of cannabis, and they’re now aware of its potential. As we march towards globalization, maybe the public’s perception of cannabis will change as well.
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