Depending on where you live in the world, you are bound to find yourself in that time of the year when a visit to the beautiful country of Turkey sounds very tempting. This country is also one of the oldest homes of marijuana, with newly discovered evidence showing that Turkish land had seen this herb even before it encountered modern civilization.
The country is also one of the richest and most developed in this side of Europe. Hence, you may be thinking it safe to assume that marijuana use, selling, buying, possession, and growing are all legal (or at least not penalized) here.
But is that really the case? If you are a pot-loving resident of Turkey, chances are, you already know the answer to this question. However, if you are a foreigner planning a visit, then you may want to read the rest of this brief guide. Here is everything you need to know about marijuana in Turkey in 2021.
Although surrounded by countries and territories who have legalized or decriminalized marijuana or at least tolerate those who consume it, Turkey remains staunch in its conservative stand against the herb.
Cannabis is presently classified as an illegal drug in Turkey. The government strictly enforces its laws related to criminal activities regarding recreational marijuana and imposes harsh penalties.
To summarize, selling and/or supplying cannabis can land you in jail for up to 10 years. Meanwhile, trafficking or production without a valid license is punishable by at least 10 years of jail time. The recreational use, possession, receipt, and purchase of marijuana are punishable by prison time of up to two years.
Medical Cannabis in Turkey
Turkey is one of the most recent countries to legalize medical marijuana, although laws are still hazy. Finally recognizing the health benefits of medical weed in patients who have not been helped by conventional treatment, the Turkish government made the historic move late 2016.
Initially, because there was no legal source of marijuana in the country, Turkey began importing oromucosal sprays with THC and CBD. They announced that medical cannabis patients can secure their supply, provided they have a so-called “red prescription” from their physician.
The use of cannabis in Turkey for medicinal purposes is still not as widespread as that in surrounding countries. First of all, citizens and/or residents were used to stringent anti-marijuana laws for the longest time. This population includes doctors, many of whom are still not very open to prescribing medical marijuana for their patients.
The variety and quantity of medical weed are limited. Currently, medical cannabis sprays are the only treatment permitted. Furthermore, the country still largely imports its supply. The good news is that this may cease to be the case in the near future due to reasons discussed in the succeeding section.
Growing Marijuana in Turkey
A year ago, the government legalized the production of cannabis in the country. Take note that these production facilities, which are in select provinces, are highly controlled and sanctioned by the ministry. However, this is still a major and positively bold step for the conservative Muslim country.
This move was strategically planned to help destroy illegal marijuana production and promote medical and scientific research into the health benefits of cannabis. These facilities are in 19 provinces: Kastamonu, Bartın, Çorum, Kayseri, Uşak, Malatya, Ordu, Tokat, Zonguldak, Yozgat, Amasya, İzmir, Burdur, Kütahya, Sinop, Samsun, Rize, Antalya, and Karabük.
Before growing, you must acquire permission and are subsequently given a three-year period to cultivate. However, before you are granted a permit, you must show proof in the form of a warrant that you are and have never been involved in the illegal production of marijuana or use or production of any narcotic.
During your growing period, ministry officials will regularly visit to monitor your facility and ensure that no illegal activity is taking place.
After harvesting, you must dispose of the remaining parts of the plants such that none can be salvaged and/or sold as a psychoactive substance.
Turkish Marijuana Culture
Despite its illegal status and harsh sanctions, weed continues to attract the Turkish people, especially young adults. In fact, about 15% to 20% of residents smoke pot on a regular basis. If you are willing to risk spending the next two years of your life in a Turkish prison, then you can easily find marijuana for recreational use out on the streets.
Cannabis is commonly called “esrar” or “kesh” in this country, whereas hashish is known as “kubar” or “toz esrar.”
Needless to say, keep your transactions private, especially if it is your first time being in Turkey or buying cannabis in the country. You can easily be ripped off by dishonest dealers (20 g should not cost more than $80!) or busted by undercover cops.
You may also want to be ready with a few bucks to bribe authorities within case you do get caught. This is not to say that all Turkish cops are corrupt, but a lot of them can be negotiated with.
Buying Marijuana Seeds in Turkey
The purchase of cannabis seeds is illegal in Turkey, except if you are a licensed grower. Even if you were a medical marijuana patient with a valid prescription, you still have no business buying seeds for yourself.
Residents typically buy marijuana seeds in Tarlabasi. However, if you are a foreigner and/or traveling alone, you may want to leave Tarlabasi out of your itinerary because the place can be quite dangerous to those unfamiliar with the area.
You can instead go to such places as Beyoglu and Taksim Square. There are plenty of cafes and bars there where you can easily buy weed. You can also just order online and opt for discreet shipping.
Although still nearly merciless when it comes to marijuana, Turkey has made impressive progress recently. At present, possession, selling, buying, and growing marijuana are only permitted if done for medical (and in some cases “scientific”) purposes.
Recreational cannabis use and related activities remain completely illegal, and fines and jail times are formidable.
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