BEN DRONKERS – PROFILE OF A CANNABIS ACTIVIST
One of the things that we’ve decided to do with this blog is to profile and shout-out people who we feel are important to the cause for whatever reason. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re always going to be these huge figures – we also want to shout out the ‘little guy’ making waves in their own pond. There are so many important people in the movement doing their bit to change perceptions and confront this crazy prohibition publically. These are people who have said “You know what? This is wrong, and I’m not going to tolerate this hypocrisy!” We don’t want to make this blog just about us selling cannabis seeds and endlessly boasting. We also want to draw attention to these heroes of the movement.
As we’re heading off to this year’s Spannabis we thought we’d give a shout out to one of the major trailblazers. Without this man’s dedication it’s fair to say we wouldn’t be heading off to Barcelona tomorrow. In the first in this new series, we bring you a profile of one of the most important individuals in the cannabis movement – Sensi Seeds founder and all-round legend – Ben Dronkers. He is perhaps one of the most prominent figures in Holland’s communities of cannabis activism and hemp manufacturing. Ben Dronkers founded HempFlax, The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, The Cannabis College and Sensi Seeds – one of Amsterdam’s largest and most well-known seedbanks. We know Ben (and the whole Dronkers family) personally and get on really well with him. In 2013, he presented us (Daire) with the trophy for winning 1st prize with our Rollex OG Kush at The High Times Cannabis Cup, Amsterdam. A number of our own staff have actually worked for Sensi or its subsidiaries in the past including Daire who spent a good while working at the Cannabis College and me (Jaime) who worked in the office doing the same as I’m doing now. Sensi genetics form the backbone of most European strains to this day including modern strains such as UK Cheese which is famously a phenotype of a Sensi Skunk #1.
The Early Days
Dronkers’ affinity with cannabis can be traced back to his early days travelling the world. Delving headfirst into the industry as a young man, Dronkers developed an early interest in the genetic makeup and varieties of cannabis while travelling the world in the merchant navy. Beginning his travels in the late 60’s, Dronkers’ travels and affinity with cannabis helped him to became a pioneer of growing techniques and the cultivation of cannabis hybrids; with him always returning with merchant ships from his voyages to his native Rotterdam.
Over the next several years, he would explore and collect seeds from all over the world. Dronkers gathered strains from such places as Southeast Asia, Afghanistan and the Himalayas. It was during this time that Dronkers, along with his good friend and fellow grower Ed Rosenthal, began to experiment with the first known indoor growing techniques.
With a knowledge that spanned smoking cultures and growing practices across the globe, Dronkers succeeded in combining genes and forming hybrid cannabis strains that are now world-famous. These include some of the first stabilized hybrids to arrive from the United States. In 1985,Ben Dronkers brought some of his many efforts into the public eye by establishing both the Sensi Seeds Club, and the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam. “Through the Museum, we wanted to provide people with information about what hash, marijuana and hemp can do. Not simply the role of cannabis in Amsterdam’s Coffeeshops, but its status as an essential, renewable resource and a global cultural and natural phenomenon,” he says.
Today, Dronkers continues to be an influential voice in the community. He is consistently pushing for further innovations of hemp as a renewable resource. He has also never given up on calling for an end to the stigmas that cannabis and its supporters have carried for decades. His endeavours in hemp innovation can be observed in HempFlax, a company that he started in 1993. Hempflax has been largely credited with reviving the Dutch hemp industry and has been busy buying upand developing hemp farms in Eastern Europe. The company strives to make hemp a primary resource for entrepreneurs and large businesses. It also raises awareness of hemp’s endless possibilities in environmental sustainability.
As a grower, an entrepreneur and an advocate, Ben Dronkers believes in the future and the potential of the cannabis industry. “I truly believe that there is a common consciousness attached to this incredible plant,” he says. “We have to unite. We have to get together to make things move forward.”
Ben Dronkers, you are an inspiration to us all – we salute you sir!