Turkey sees in hemp the solution for its battered economy


Turkey plans to rapidly increase the production of industrial hemp throughout its territory to solve the economic crisis it is suffering

Facing the economic crisis, the great economic inflation of food products and a declining agricultural sector, the politicians of the current government of Turkey have found a new manna to entrust their future: cannabis or “the green treasure”, as defined the newspaper Yeni Safak, one of the media closest to the Turkish Islamist government. The cultivation of this plant, with a long tradition in Anatolia, had almost disappeared in recent decades as a result of the anti-narcotics laws, however, President Erdogan wants to recover and stimulate its production for industrial use.

In effect, Turkey wants to expand the production of hemp at great speed throughout its territory with the aim of making an industrial use of the plant.

The cultivation of hemp in Turkey has been banned in recent decades due to the ignorant and absurd laws created for the war on drugs. Because of these draconian laws, hemp and heroin were at the same level, for example.

However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, recently, during an interview, has stated that he intends to resume and even increase the production of hemp for industrial use.

For many years, Turkey has been at war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), considered a terrorist by the Turkish authorities, whom they accuse of cultivating and trafficking marijuana and opium to finance their terrorist activities.

Because of its geostrategic enclave, Turkey is a key country for drug traffickers operating between East and West. It is a country with some of the toughest laws against all types of drugs, including marijuana. Does anyone remember the film called Midnight Express? The essence of this film is the true story of a young American who tries to take two kilos of hashish and is sentenced to life imprisonment. What happened then remains a reality today.

President Erdogan has declared his intention to expand the legal production of hemp in Turkey and has explained that the ban on cultivation “is a conspiracy of Western powers to undermine Turkish agriculture.” We must remember that Erdogan is an Islamic fundamentalist who does not hide his rancor against Western countries.

“The enemies of Turkey who claim to be our friends have forced Turkey to end its production of hemp / cannabis,” he told the media in relation to NATO in general and the United States in particular, because this country pressured to Turkey to ban opium production in 1971. Turkey did not like it at all and when the youth of the film Midnight Express was arrested with hashish, Turkey wanted to take revenge on the US by sentencing a 22-year-old boy to life imprisonment. He just wanted to go back home with some good marijuana resin for him and his friends.

Turkey was at that time a major producer of legal opium, but there were also illegal opium producers who supplied huge quantities of this substance. The Turkish Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Bekir Pakdemirli, has also publicly stated that the government will do what is necessary to increase the production of hemp, which is currently only allowed in 19 of the 81 provinces of Turkey.

Hemp is native to Central Asia, where the plant has been used for 8,000 years. This region is the original homeland of the Turks.

Hemp is a totally natural and long-lasting product. Hemp is versatile and can also be recycled. And perhaps its most important condition for the current industry is that it is not polluting since it does not generate toxic byproducts, something that cannot be said about the production of synthetic plastics.

Hemp also cleans the soil contaminated by radioactivity. In fact, every year, hemp is grown in Chernobyl so that the roots absorb radioactivity. The oil, derived from hemp seeds, is a valuable source of omega-3. And in the industrial field, hemp can replace the oil that the industry now uses to produce plastics and fuels.

The Government wants to replace plastic bags with hemp bags and stimulate an uncompetitive and declining agricultural sector.

Erdem Ulas, a famous researcher on the properties of hemp, said during a televised interview that industrial hemp is a very strategic product and a miraculous crop.

Ulas is also the director of the Institute of Hemp ASAM, a group of experts. Ulas said his organization had received more than 2,000 phone calls from local and foreign farmers and investors who were very interested in the issue after President Erdogan’s comment on hemp production.

With the production of hemp, Turkey will be able to drastically reduce paper imports. Turkey will be able to produce better and cheaper paper. In addition, with hemp fibers, other products of great added value can also be produced for the country. On the other hand, the cultivation of hemp is respectful with the environment.

The new policy of Turkey is to expand the number of licenses according to the demand that is produced, according to the Turkish economist Bekir Pakdemirli.

This economist has explained that there is already a joint research project between the Black Sea Agricultural Research Institute and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey, which, once finalized, will be shared with cannabis growers and anyone else who is an active part of the sector.

Since 1971, Turkey has seen a drastic reduction in its production of hemp. The country produced 5000 tons of cannabis / hemp in 1961 and only 7 tons in 2018. Fortunately for its citizens, Turkey has once again considered the importance of hemp, both as a crop and to reactivate the economy and respect the environment. It is expected that hemp will generate thousands of new jobs for the country and its ruinous economy.

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