Origins of cannabis in Turkey

Cannabis cultivation in Turkey is one of the oldest in Europe, which is not strange since it is a plant originary from Asia that spread from East to West. According to evidence found, cannabis tradition in Turkey may date back to 1000BC, being highly valued for its multiple uses. Over the course of the centuries, it became a major good for the Ottoman Empire, being used to manufacture ropes or sails for their ships, apart from many other uses.

Of course, cannabis buds and then hashish were also used both medicinally and recreationally, with Istanbul being one of the most important cannabis-trading places in the world. Also, the Sufi form of Islam helped to spread cannabis by using it in their ceremonial practices, being often considered by many as the “hippies” of the Islamic world. Cannabis was also a popular product in many coffee houses across the territory, where one could smoke flowers or hashish without a problem. Of course, trade routes from Turkey also helped to spread cannabis both throughout Europe and the Middle East area.

Unfortunately, this peaceful situation changed during the XX century; as many other countries did, Turkey banned cannabis during the first decades of the century. In 1925, Turkey and Egypt called to include cannabis as a drug in the International Convention of Narcotics Control (Geneva), a hard blow to recreational and medicinal cannabis users. Over the decades, synthetic fibres also forced almost all hemp grown out of the market, so by 2017 only 11 acres of cannabis were grown in Turkey, in comparison with the 35.000 acres grown in the early 60’s. As cannabis cultivation decreased in Turkey, it flourished in other places, especially Lebanon.

Today (2021), and while the legalistaion of hemp production from Erdogan’s government surely represents a step towards normalizing cannabis in the country, nothing makes us believe that recreational use of this plant will be soon legal in Turkey.


Cultivation of Turkey landrace

Collected at source by our team in the Kurdistan area, south east Turkey, in the triangle represented by the north east of Syria, north of Iraq and north west of Iran, these seeds come from hash cultivars and you will notice, already from seedling stage, that the plants have that classical hash-plant structure, short, compact, pretty leafy or with a copious foliage, thick stems that emanate a hash lemony smell and short internodal spaces. They could be compared to Moroccan and Lebanese plants as you will see some similarities amongst them. The Turkish will not be as compact as some broad-leaved plants from Afghanistan and easily reaching +1.5m in height when grown outdoors under optimal conditions. These are plants that grow in pretty barren lands under very hot sun.

The nutritional needs of these plants are average, and you don’t need large amounts of water to make them happy. They’re suitable for all types of environments, from greenhouses to indoor or outdoor crops, although best results are normally seen outdoors in Mediterranean climates. Without a doubt, one of the main traits of this genetics is its quick development. It is normally sowed in March or even February in Turkey (Kurdistan) and some plants are harvested as early as mid July (most plants are harvested during the first two weeks of August). It is then a very interesting cultivar for those who need really fast plants that can be harvested before the autumn rains come. Locally, plants are either used to make hash or used directly as bud, although old-school smokers will surely recognize the typical nuances of Turkish hash, a mix of citrus, floral, spicy, and of course, hashy notes.

As happens with other landraces from the Middle East, it causes a strong feeling of body relaxation – which could suggest the presence of CBD – while leaving the mind clear and focused, ideal as daytime smoke to enjoy any type of activity. It instantly improves your mood while making stress go away, it’s the type of weed that makes you enjoy anything you’re doing, from long reading sessions to hiking.

The farmers from where these seeds were obtained come from a very poor area and live in very difficult conditions. The method that they explained and showed us is very rudimentary. After the hash is sieved they put it in aluminium foil and heat it up gently on the grill or on blazing charcoals. Once it is softer and while still in the aluminium foil they use an oval-shaped stone to flatten the “dough”. They then let it cool down and open the “package” when it is cold and taken the shape they wanted it to be.

If you’re growing this cultivar to make hash, we recommend to use several screens of different sizes to obtain the best possible quality. Either you choose the dry-sieving or the water and ice method. The best glands will be found between the 60 and 120 micron range. Using also 160, 190 and 220 micron screens to retain the undesirable green matter will give you a clean, shiny product. In the case of Rosin, we recommend a drying period of the plant material of about 4-5 days prior to pressing the trimmed buds. Of course, and in order to get better yields and better quality, always try to carry out the process at the coldest temperature possible, even freezing the buds before processing them in the case of hash. Whatever method used, you’ll be enjoying a true and ancient “Turkish”delight!