Turkey Legalizes Cannabis Production for Medical and Scientific Purposes
The new government regulations will allow highly-controlled and cannabis production in 19 provinces.
Published on October 17, 2016

All across the United States and Canada, the movement to legalize cannabis has spread rapidly, and even more states are poised to come aboard pending this November. But North America isn’t the only continent where countries are feeling the green rush. There are a number of European countries looking to implement pro-cannabis regulations as well, Germany and Morocco to name a couple, as well as Turkey, which has just announced that they have legalized the production of the plant in select regions throughout the country.

Turkey’s new “Hemp Cultivation and Control of Regulations”, were created by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, have legalized the production of highly-controlled and ministry-sanctioned cannabis in 19 Turkish provinces. The law specifies that the cannabis will be produced for medicinal and scientific purposes, and aims to curb the illegal production that already runs rampant throughout Turkey. 

The new regulations were published late last month in the Official Gazette, and state that growers must obtain a permission from the government that allows them to grow cannabis for a three-year-period. These hopeful growers must also procure a warrant proving that they have not been involved with the production or use of any illegal cannabis and narcotics. 

Every month, Turkish Ministry officials will observe these cannabis fields to ensure that no illegal activity is taking place. In addition, those who are authorized to grow will be required to dispose of all the parts of the plant after harvesting it, which the government hopes will prevent the psychoactive component of cannabis from being sold and used. 

Though the new regulations are a step in the right direction for the Eastern European country, recreational cannabis use is still highly illegal in Turkey. In fact, possessing, purchasing, or receiving illegal cannabis is punishable by up to two years in prison. These authorized growers are under even stricter law, as the sale and supply of illegal drugs like cannabis could earn them a prison sentence of up to 10 years. Unlicensed production and trafficking would bring about similar charges.

The 19 provinces that have been considered in the new regulations are:  Amasya, Antalya, Bartın, Burdur, Çorum, İzmir, Karabük, Kastamonu, Kayseri, Kütahya, Malatya, Ordu, Rize, Samsun, Sinop, Tokat, Uşak, Yozgat, and Zonguldak.  According to the Ministry, other provinces may be granted permission to grow cannabis if the said production is strictly for “scientific purposes”. 

Though the Turkish government still strongly condemns recreational use of cannabis, it will be interesting to see how these new regulations shake out. A recent European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) report shows that teen cannabis use in Europe is higher than ever, and with cannabis becoming an agricultural commodity throughout the continent, we may just see that number continue to grow. 

Tyler Koslow
Tyler Koslow is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer with an intensive focus on technology, music, pop culture, and of course, cannabis and its impending legalization.
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