Updated on January 22, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
In 2016, Turkey changed their narcotics laws to allow patients to visit physicians and receive a red prescription for cannabis-based medications. This was a huge leap forward for individuals living with debilitating conditions in this historically conservative nation. However, the government has been vague about who qualifies and slow to implement concrete details. For this reason, many patients and physicians are afraid to pursue these types of medications.
Many patients turn to the black market for illegal cannabis because of how difficult it is to get a cannabis prescription, even though this carries the threat of prison time if caught by the police.
When the government approved cannabis-based medications, they acknowledged the health benefits of the plant to treat many different disorders. Although they have not published a list of qualifying conditions, they recognize its benefits for those with such conditions as:
The main qualification seems to be if a patient has not responded to conventional medications. Only then can medical marijuana be pursued as an alternative form of treatment.
Many countries have a clearly laid-out, step-by-step process patients can follow to become a medical marijuana patient. Unfortunately for those living in Turkey, the nation has been slow to implement the specific criteria even though the program was approved over a year ago. The harsh attitude the government has had toward cannabis for the past hundred years makes many physicians afraid to prescribe these forms of medications.
So, the first challenge patients must face when seeking to gain access to medical marijuana meds in Turkey is finding a doctor who will write a prescription. Once they do this, the physician will assess their condition and determine if cannabis is the best course of treatment. If other medications have not done the trick, then the doctor can write a red prescription.
Although the government is currently working on plans to start cultivating marijuana for medical and scientific purposes in 19 of their provinces, this has yet to come to fruition — all medical marijuana meds are imported from abroad. Plus, the only cannabis-based meds approved in Turkey are sublingual sprays like Sativex which contain CBD and THC.
A red prescription simply means the patient is receiving permission to take a narcotic — marijuana is included in this category. With their prescription, a patient can either access imported medications through their physician or on their own.
A red prescription offers limited legal protection for medical marijuana patients. Although it does permit them to access oromucosal sprays, it does not allow them to use any other form of cannabis. If they are caught smoking marijuana, they are subject to the same penalties as non-patients, which could include up to two years in prison. If they’re lucky, they will receive three years of probation and have to attend a rehabilitation course.
The world of medical marijuana has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Even conservative nations like Turkey recognize its healthful benefits and have implemented limited medical protocol. At MarijuanaDoctors.com, we strive to keep you informed about international cannabis laws. Although Turkey has no intention at present to modify their medical marijuana laws, if that changes, we make sure our readers are among the first to know.