Hemp growers are increasingly seeking out nature. Why? Because legal cultivation is unfortunately still not permitted in the Netherlands at the moment. Dutch newspaper AD talked with forest ranger Erik de Jonge about illegal activities in the province Noord-Brabant. He shows how both home and professional growers try to grow marijuana in the middle of nature. Who cares, you say? Well, we do. Because they are damaging valuable nature areas.
Professional nurseries with over 2,000 plants
It’s quite the shock when you come across a thousand hemp plants in the middle of nature as a forest ranger. It happened to forest ranger Erik de Jonge – who works for Brabants Landschap – last year. He found a professional plantation with more than 2,000 plants. Every year he discovers 1-5 illegal professional plantations.
But it’s not only professional growers who use nature reserves for growing their marihuana. Also ‘home growers’ head into the woods and grow plants for personal use in the middle of nature. Most of them grow three to five plants, for personal consumption.
Growing in nature may seem innocent at first glance, but unfortunately, there are negative sides to these illegal growing activities. It creates waste, pollution, and disturbance of the peace and quiet of animals. In nature reserves, of which parts are closed off from the public, growers can, therefore, cause considerable damage. Sometimes the illegal nurseries are so big entire trees are removed to make way for illegal growing fields.
More supervision needed
Forest ranger Erik de Jonge pleads for more police supervision in nature reserves. As a forest ranger, he has an important signaling function. But, support from law enforcement officers is more than necessary.
“What we especially need in remote areas is surveillance, surveillance, surveillance. Our job is forest management and nature conservation. Supervision and law enforcement are fortunately already improving in Brabant, but we really should step it up. We see that the major problems such as hemp cultivation, waste dumping, and poaching have certainly not yet been diminished”.
Where CAN we grow?
So, growing marihuana in the open air, a greenhouse, or on business premises is not allowed? Nope. Therefore it is not surprising that growers look for other places (where they run little risk of being seen). In order to protect our nature reserves against illegal hemp cultivation, we, therefore, need more than just more police surveillance. And by this we mean we need to keep the conversation on legal cultivation going. When not only consumption but also growing becomes legal we can create designated areas that are actually suitable for growing hemp. And that would be killing two birds with one stone, wouldn’t it?