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Turkey Legalizes Cannabis Cultivation in 19 Provinces

Turkey’s Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock recently announced they would allow highly-controlled and ministry-sanctioned cannabis production in selected provinces.

In an effort to curb the illegal production of cannabis, the nation of Turkey announced new regulations that would allow growers in selected regions to legally cultivate cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, the Independent reports. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock announced the new regulations in the Official Gazette at the end of September.

Under the new law, “Hemp Cultivation and Control of Regulations,” growers in 19 of the country’s 81 provinces will have the opportunity to obtain permission from the Turkish government to grow cannabis for a three-year period. Growers interested in participating in the program are required to submit a warrant that proves they have not been previously involved in the production of illegal cannabis or other narcotics.

The new regulations do not legalize marijuana in Turkey. The possession and purchase of cannabis continues to be illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison. The sale or supply of cannabis is punishable by up to 10 years, while the unlicensed production or trafficking of marijuana is susceptible to a minimum jail term of 10 years. The Turkish government still strictly condemns recreational use of marijuana.

The 19 Turkish provinces where the new law applies include Amasya, Antalya, Bartın, Burdur, Çorum, İzmir, Karabük, Kastamonu, Kayseri, Kütahya, Malatya, Ordu, Rize, Samsun, Sinop, Tokat, Uşak, Yozgat and Zonguldak.

The cultivated cannabis is limited for scientific or medicinal purposes only. The new regulations require that authorized growers dispose of all parts of the cannabis plant after harvest so that it isn’t sold to produce psychoactive products. Ministry officials will check cannabis fields on a monthly basis before the start of the harvest season to monitor for illegal activity. The regulations also allow the ministry in outstanding cases to grant permission for the growth of cannabis in provinces other than the listed 19 provided that production is for scientific purposes.

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In February, the Turkish Ministry of Health added an oromucosal spray containing tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol to its list of “importable medicines.” Patients must acquire an authorization of use by a doctor with a “red prescription.”

Turkey is not the only European country to have had pro-cannabis occurrences as of late. Germany recently introduced legislation that will legalize medical marijuana for seriously ill patients diagnosed with conditions like cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis in 2017. Additionally, its Federal Administrative Court just recently granted permission for a single patient to cultivate cannabis for personal medicinal use. Weeks ago in the United Kingdom, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Reform acknowledged the medicinal properties of cannabis and made a forceful call for legalization.

Outside of Europe, cannabis laws are also relaxing. Australia’s regulatory agency for medical drugs and devices announced that it would be legalizing medical marijuana across the country later this year. In Canada, medical marijuana patients are now legally allowed to grow a limited amount of cannabis following the ruling of a judge, and the country is expected to legalize recreational marijuana sometime in 2017. In the United States, legal marijuana is expected to continue its expansion, as nine states will vote on marijuana initiatives in November.

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