Where |Turkey`

Capital |Ankara

Inhabitants |79463663

Legal Status |illegal

Medical Program |no

by Seshata on 10/01/2014 | Legal & Politics

Cannabis in Turkey

Turkey Turkey has a long history of cannabis use, dating back thousands of years, and it has a rich culture associated with it. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, political changes have meant that the leadership of the country has taken more decisive steps to limit and criminalise its use.


40-cannabis-in-Turkey_4K

Turkey has a long history of cannabis use, dating back thousands of years, and a rich culture associated with it. However, since the beginning of the 20th century, political changes have meant that the leadership of the country has taken more decisive steps to limit and criminalise its use.

History of Cannabis in Turkey

Cannabis in Turkey - 1. The fertile, hilly Diyarbakir Province is the heartland of cannabis cultivation in Turkey (CharlesFred)
The fertile, hilly Diyarbakir Province is the heartland of cannabis cultivation in Turkey (Charles Roffey)

There is evidence to suggest that cannabis has been cultivated in Turkey since at least 1,000 BCE. Archaeologists have found traces of hemp fibres dating to around this time in the ruins of the ancient city of Gordion, situated near present-day Ankara.

Throughout much of the Ottoman period (1299-1922), hashish use was accepted and ubiquitous. The mystic Sufi sect of Islam made particularly enthusiastic use of cannabis as a sacrament, and many parlours and coffee houses allowed use of hashish on their premises.

Cannabis and hashish were made illegal in 1890; in 1925, Turkey and Egypt were the two countries that most vehemently insisted upon cannabis’ inclusion in the Geneva International Convention on Narcotics Control, established by the League of Nations. It is suggested that this was part of a wider move to modernize and align with the West.

The Cannabis Trade Today

Turkey still has an active population of illicit cannabis cultivators, whose harvest is mostly destined for export. Much of the harvest is typically processed into hash prior to sale; hashish is also imported from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Turkey is not a significant producer in global terms, but the industry still retains economic significance in areas that are hubs of cultivation.

Diyarbakir Province in south-eastern Anatolia is the heartland of cannabis cultivation in Turkey, and produces up to two-thirds of the country’s total harvest. It is thought that cultivation is particularly concentrated here due to its fertile soil, ideal climate, and rugged terrain that is difficult for authorities to patrol. Within Diyarbakir Province, Lice District is the main hub of cultivation—an area of just 1026km with a population of 27,414 (2012).

Turkey is home to well-established heroin trafficking routes which originate in Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate in Western Europe and North America; hashish from Pakistan and Afghanistan is also trafficked along these routes.

Cannabis & Kurdish Independence

Cannabis in Turkey - 2. Turkey is an important transshipment point for hashish and heroin originating in Pakistan & Afghanistan (Marion Doss)
Turkey is an important transshipment point for hashish and heroin originating in Pakistan & Afghanistan (Marion Doss)

The cannabis industry is highly politicised in Turkey. Diyarbakir Province, and much of the southeast, is considered by the relative majority Kurdish population to be part of Turkish Kurdistan. It is at the centre of a decades-long struggle to establish an independent Kurdish nation that would also occupy territory currently controlled by the neighbouring countries of Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Armenia.

The outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which was founded in Fis village, Lice District in 1978, remains active in Diyarbakir Province. It is believed by Turkish authorities to be heavily involved in cannabis cultivation—the proceeds of which are then allegedly used to fund terrorist activities throughout Kurdistan.

Seizures & Eradications

The PPK engaged in a low-intensity armed struggle against the Turkish authorities from 1984 to 2013, when they agreed to a ceasefire and began to withdraw into northern Iraq. The decision to do so greatly facilitated the intensification in police operations in the region that has been ongoing since late 2012.

Police in Diyarbakir Province are actively eradicating cannabis plantations, and seizures of market-ready cannabis and hashish has also been increasing. In January 2013, an air and ground operation detected and seized 21 tons of cannabis, valued at 40 million Turkish liras (€13.5m); in May, a similar seizure led to the staging of a sit-in protest by local villagers determined to reclaim the plants that represent their livelihood.

In June, two million plants valued at 60 million liras (€20.3m)—said to be capable of producing 40 tons of cannabis—were destroyed; in July, plants valued at 250 million liras (€84.6m) were destroyed. Both of these eradications occurred in Lice District. In 2013, it is estimated that over 200 police operations in south-eastern Turkey led to seizures of over 48 million plants.

Cannabis Arrests & Sentences

Cannabis in Turkey - 3. Members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which controlled cannabis cultivation in Diyarbakir Province between 1984 and 2013
Members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which controlled cannabis cultivation in Diyarbakir Province between 1984 and 2013 (James Gordon)

Arrests for possession, sale and cultivation of cannabis are very harsh in Turkey. Possession, sale and purchase of narcotics including cannabis are punishable by 4-10 years’ imprisonment; exporting narcotics is punishable by 6-12 years’ imprisonment and a per-gram fine, and importing and producing narcotics is punishable by 10-20 years’ imprisonment.

It is not clear what the total rates of cannabis arrests are in Turkey, but they believed to be on the increase. In one operation alone in Lice District, 516 arrests were made; given the high number of operations in the region, total arrests may number well into the thousands for this year alone.

Cultural Use of Cannabis

Cannabis is popular among the young, urban demographic, and its use is widespread; although flagrant consumption may be punished harshly, there is typically no repercussion for smoking in one’s home. Furthermore, police may often take bribes and let offenders go without further action.

Turkish terms for cannabis include esrar, toz esrar (hashish), and kesh. Traditionally, cannabis use was ubiquitous, and during the medieval period it was also an integral part of the herbal pharmacopoeia of the time. Members of the Sufi sect still use cannabis in sacramental rites in present-day Turkey; the revered prophet Al-Khidr is a highly significant figure in Sufism, and has long been associated with cannabis.

Purchasing Cannabis in Turkey

Prices for cannabis in Turkey vary greatly, from as low as €1 to as high as €10 per gram, depending on quality and amount purchased. Tourists are advised to exert utmost caution when attempting to source cannabis. Ideally, approaching a trusted local friend is the best means by which to procure cannabis for a reasonable price.

If this is impossible, asking in tourist-friendly bars and cafés is advisable; it is never a good idea to approach unfamiliar groups of locals as the risk of arrest, excessive prices, and even robbery or violence is always present.

Modern Attitudes to Cannabis

Cannabis in Turkey - 4. Since late 2012, Turkish authorities have been intensifying efforts to curb cultivation in Diyarbakir Province
Since late 2012, Turkish authorities have been intensifying efforts to curb cultivation in Diyarbakir Province

Attitudes to cannabis are relatively polarised in present-day Turkey. There are large sections of the population that view hashish consumption as a traditional pastime, and a much smaller minority—although sizable in some key locations—that utterly depend on itas a livelihood.

This minority has existed for far longer than the modern territorial dispute has endured—although there have been sporadic ethnic conflicts throughout the region for hundreds of years.
The fact that the industry was taken over by PPK members for almost thirty years has led to an enduring belief among many Turkish citizens that the cannabis trade is inextricably linked to organised crime and terrorism. Furthermore, cannabis has been increasingly demonised by the Turkish authorities and media, cementing beliefs that it is dangerous and demotivating drug.

It is important to document the history and current events of the ongoing drug war in every country that it occurs—for this reason, organisations like the Hash Marijuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam are crucial as they attempt to bring together information from various credible sources in order to provide the most accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information on the present global situation.

Comment Section

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Mr. T

A correction about the sentencing is Turkey: First time offenders for personal consumption are given a one year probation with piss tests and mandatory addiction treatment, so it's not so bad.

Trying to bribe the police isn't a clever idea since low level corruption has diminished in the last decade.

A final word on the quality of the local cannabis or hash: Shit to mediocre.

21/01/2014

Seshata

Thanks for your feedback! I will check that out and amend accordingly.

17/02/2014

salih

up to 2014 if you are only smoker yes there was no arrest and even you cut by big amount they send you rehab or probation but know even you cut by only a gram you go to jail.and will be challenging 4 to 7 years on court.and if you cut dealing 7 to 12 years no kidding just for a joint you can get fucked.and that is all because of bonanza killed or freaked out lot of young people.and goverment makes no differance look differantly on heroin cocain bananza or weed.to people and court they are all same.nuts but real.

18/12/2014

John

I am traveling to turkey flying from Rome italy to turkey on a private plane. What is the best way to bring a few joints into turkey?

08/01/2015

David Cannafacts

Hi John,

Due to legal restrictions, you will understand that we can not provide any assistance in smuggling illegal substances across borders.

09/01/2015

türk

incorrect information !!!!

24/03/2016

MR M

Saying this depending on what, will you please share your knowledge of information?

06/04/2016

MR M

As of 2016, the change in world also affected Turkey. Recently in february, the congress passed a bill allowing to import Oral THC Spray with red prescription. This can be considered as the first step and as the UNGASS coming in soon on 19th of April, more changes may be seen.

Also the pricing should be edited as those drug busts in Diyarbakır affected the market A LOT.

In Tarlabaşı, you can still get a handful of shitty dope for 50 liras.(around 15€)
Some skunk that can be considered mediocre is sold from 50 to 100 liras per gram. (I know, it sucks.)

If you have some connections, try finding some wax, it is not what you think, it's not dab/concentrate. This is Turkish wax. Made by mixing kief and henna (for increasing the amount and the henna also gives it a little sweet spic taste&smell) a little piece for 50 would be enough for 5-6 people all night. The reason this is cheap is that producers and most of the consumers don't have any knowledge of the plant, the kief is mostly considered as a leftover of the stuff and was actually thrown away until they came up with the idea of wax. Result? One of the best shit ever smoked in Turkey in a looong time.

06/04/2016

pak etto

just be careful my friend
don t mess with turkey in this kind of items
you get fucked right away!!

10/10/2016

Demo

Few corrections:
In the last 4-5 years home growing has increased in major cities. It is now possible to find somewhat decent marijuana (no strain names or anything) . The prices are usually about 100 liras (30 euros) per gram. Previously marijuana cultivators didn't pay much attention to their crops so they had a lot of seeds in them. That was the reason of cheaper prices. The Legal limit to carry on yourself is 12 grams i believe. More than 12 grams would get you arrested for trafficking. The local police is pretty kind towards young turkish people who smoke but i wouldn't recommend bringing in illegal substances or carrying them on the street since some police officers have negative thoughts about foreigners. All and all people know we smoke but if you don't bother them they probably wouldn't bother you.
Cheers

10/10/2016

El Turko

Hello Dear Friends and Smokers,
First off all, I was born and raised in Istanbul. And I studied university in Hatay province which is a border city near Syria. In Hatay, you are able to find any quality of weed and it depends on whom you know. Its not legal,yet you can find it everywhere on the streets. There are packages that arranged for selling like at least for 20 Liras but this price only salable in small cities. Now, in 2017 you can get 2 to 4 grams of weed for 50 liras in Istanbul, it wasnt like that years ago. (Depends on the quality and the relation with your dealer)And its a real deal. Now they take care of their business and dont fuck around. If you wanna buy it then you should ask barmen and youngsters. But be careful in order to not get cheated. Advice: smoke it on the roof of a house where you can see the silhouette of the city in the night with a cold beer like Carlsberg. Have fun!

03/07/2017

amir

thanks for your kind information , what if i just roll two single cigarettes between one pack ? how do they find out weed at the air port ?

20/09/2019

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Where |Turkey`

Capital |Ankara

Inhabitants |79463663

Legal Status |illegal

Medical Program |no