Hemp growers are increasingly seeking out nature 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 and thus 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. Three or five plants, for example. 

Growing in nature may seem innocent at first glance, but unfortunately, there are negative sides to these illegal growing activities such as 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 place for the 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 is surveillance, surveillance, surveillance in remote areas. 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, because we can see that the major problems such as hemp cultivation, waste dumping, and poaching have certainly not yet diminished”

You can watch the interview (in Dutch) with forest ranger Erik de Jonge here

Where CAN we grow?

If growing marihuana in the open air, a greenhouse, or on business premises is not allowed, 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 if you ask us. 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?

Want to keep talking? Visit our coffeeshop in Amsterdam. We are located here.