Elections loom, Ankara promises farmers they would soon legally produce and run cannabis plantations

Turkey is steaming ahead with plans to plant cannabis production fields, this was pointed out by the President during a speech last week.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking about the fields that will operate legally, said during a speech last week: “The ones who barred us from planting the opium poppy were incessantly planting the poppy themselves.”

Erdogan was sarcastically referring to the opium crisis in the United  States that happened in the 1970s.

“We should commence a cannabis production process because we will see its benefits on various fields,” he said.

The very next day after Erdogan’s announcement, Bekir Pakdemirli, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry announced that his ministry is working on the expansion of legal cannabis plantations.

Farmers of the nineteen provinces, where planting cannabis is legally permitted, are expecting a subsidy for the production as Erdogan’s speech on the production of cannabis fields might be a precursor for due incentives.

Erdogan’s cannabis statement led to varying positive and negative reactions across the political spectrum.

Pro-government columnists like Abdurrahman Dilipak addressed the perks of supervised cannabis production, while critical voices like Baskin Oran viewed the move as an innovative election bribe of farmers.

“The government is fearful of these elections and scraping the surface in search of a solution,” said Oran in his column for the Agos daily.

The Turkish Statistical Institute said through its data, the country had 875 hectares of cannabis plantation in 2000. This figure has steadily declined every year, in 2004 it was 375 hectares and as of 2019, the country had only 24 hectares of cannabis plantation.

Cannabis seed and fiber production saw sharp declines as well. Over 2 500 tons of fiber and 140 tons of seed were produced in the year 2000. After a year-by-year decline, the production amounts of both were fixed at one ton in 2014 and remains the same to this day.

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