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Turkmenistan is a Central Asian nation, formerly part of the USSR, which due to its proximity to Afghanistan has become an increasingly significant hub for trafficking heroin and cannabis.

As well as being an important transit country, Turkmenistan produces significant quantities of opium and cannabis each year.

Occasionally, there are reports of narcotics being secreted in the stomachs or body cavities of humans and animals.

At this point in Turkmenistan’s history, opium and heroin use is of far greater concern to authorities.

Although there is sparse first-hand evidence of its use in Turkmenistan prior to 575 BCE, it is likely that cannabis has been known and utilised in the region for far longer; given that the plant evolved in the region and has a known tendency to colonised ground recently cleared by human activity, it is inevitable that people in the region would have encountered it fairly early on.

There is very little evidence available of either cultivated or wild cannabis in Turkmenistan, due in part to the nation’s notoriously closeted approach to international cooperation since the establishment of the bizarre and repressive regime of ‘President for Life’ Saparmurat Niyazov—who ruled from 1985 until his death in 2006, at first as leader of the Turkmen SSR and on the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Türkmenbasy (‘Leader of the Turkmen’) of the newly independent Turkmenistan.

His successor, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, is ostensibly democratically elected, although there are widespread accusations that the last election in 2012 was a sham.

Although Turkmenistan has relaxed its stringent policies to some extent since 2006, it is still impossible to enter the country without prior approval from the government, and both foreign and domestic researchers are restricted heavily.

It was reported that analysis of the samples confirmed the presence of cannabis and ephedra.

Turkmenistan shares a 446-mile border with Afghanistan and a 595-mile border with Iran; both are remote, rugged and mountainous in parts.

Although the bulk of counternarcotics operations are concentrated at the borders, it is impossible to effectively police the entire length, and law enforcement agencies are severely underfunded, undertrained and underequipped.

In China, there are archaeological records dating to 10,000 BCE of hemp textile impressions used for decorative purposes on earthenware pottery, and several more recent examples.

Although there is no evidence of meaningful contact between ancient metropolitan China and the Scythians prior to the 8 century BCE, cannabis was indigenous throughout the region, and it is likely that independent cultures of use became established in several areas.

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