Kings of Cannabis (Full Length Documentary)

the side of a mountain. And there’s about thousands of
marijuana plants around us. -This is like, two,
three hectares– like 20, 30,000 plants. And then you know that you’re
going to find a champion there if you look long enough. It’s a massive field,
full of pot. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: You might not
know who Arjan Roskam is, but you’ve probably
smoked his weed. Since 1985, Arjan’s been
producing some of the most well-known strains of marijuana
out of Amsterdam. We joined up with him and his
crew in Colombia to look for three rare marijuana strains. So after about a few hours of
sleep, we’re headed to Cali to check out the biggest weed
operation in Colombia. -Good. Let’s rock and roll. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: First stop,
the massive grow operation of local legend El Gato, Arjan’s
key Colombian contact. He’d be our guide throughout
the trip. EL GATO: [SPEAKING SPANISH] ARJAN ROSKAM: So here we go,
guerrilla-style growing, guys, in the mountains of the FARC. Look here. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Colombia
produces the most cocaine in the world. But it’s also one of the most
fertile places on earth to grow cannabis. And while the country allows
for recreational amounts of marijuana, growing weed on an
industrial scale remains highly illegal. ARJAN ROSKAM: If
you look at the plants, they’re all moving. You feel a little breeze
going through. Not too much, but just enough
to make them strong and make sure there’s no stale
air around the buds. This is the biggest
in Colombia. It’s probably maybe the biggest
in South America. Or Paraguay also have
really big ones. -Not like this. ARJAN ROSKAM: But not
like this, and not this kind of quality. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: In 1992, Arjan
opened his first coffee shop in Amsterdam, and
has since crafted marijuana-breeding skills into a
market-savvy empire known as Green House Seed Company. He’s won 38 Cannabis Cups. He’s even dubbed himself
the King of Cannabis. -All hail the king. ARJAN ROSKAM: We thought maybe
if we create a King of Cannabis, maybe all the rappers
will come, maybe famous artists will come. They will spread the
word for us. BUSTA RHYMES: Congratulate
the King of the Cannabis. Salud. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: These days,
he’s often found in Amsterdam. And when he’s not there, he’s
strain-hunting, scouring the entire world looking for rare,
untouched marijuana strains that are known as landraces. ARJAN ROSKAM: We are
the guys who travel all around the world. We see where the
good stuff is. And we try to bring back the
knowledge that we gain here. We are the only guys who go
really into the bush and really to the danger areas. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: With authentic
seeds in hand, he brings them back to the lab in
Amsterdam to develop new varieties of marijuana. His companies bring in millions
of dollars a year. ARJAN ROSKAM: Here you see a
grow room that’s done with a minimal amount of money, but
intuitive perfection. So this is the most healthy
way of growing marijuana, preserving nature, and in the
end, smoking the product. Because it’s so perfect. How many plants? 8,000. -8,000. ARJAN ROSKAM: How many kilos? ARJAN ROSKAM: Every crop
or every year? ARJAN ROSKAM: 4,000 pounds. So that’s 2,000 kilos. So that’s 6,000 kilos–
six tons a year. -Yeah. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: All right. So the boys are sort of
gathering around these plants to do a little shoot for their
marketing initiatives. They have fertilizer,
apparently, that they try to sell to people. But this is sort of businessman Arjan at work again. ARJAN ROSKAM: The bags
are in good height? Our faces are good visible? -Fuck yeah. Fuck yeah, man. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: As marijuana
becomes legal in more and more countries around the world,
Arjan Roskam has set himself up to be the first billionaire
of bud. FRANCO LOJA: They’re raising
of them already. It’s three weeks away from
being harvested. Incredible. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Arjan’s
business partner and head breeder is Franco Loja, a
paratrooper in the Italian military turned grower. FRANCO LOJA: I used to be
perceived as a criminal when I was in Italy. Now I’m a guy that has 50,000
friends on Facebook and people asking for autographs and want
to take pictures with me. The beauty of cannabis, the
power of cannabis– it’s its variety. It’s the fact that there are
so many flavors, so many effects, medicinal
and recreational. It’s a plant, but it’s
not one plant. It’s thousands of plants. ARJAN ROSKAM: Now as we look, we
are in a great plantation. But it’s still very
illegal, what the people are doing here. And they’re all jeopardizing
their life in prison and everything, you know. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] ARJAN ROSKAM: [SPEAKING SPANISH] -[SPEAKING SPANISH] ARJAN ROSKAM: You
sprayed Zerotol? -Zerotol. ARJAN ROSKAM: The people who
are running this operation lost their father,
their brothers. So this gives you just an idea
of how rough the past was. And now they’re marijuana
growers. That’s the greatest
thing on earth. They go from the guerrilla
to growing marijuana. What else do you want to
have on this planet? [MUSIC PLAYING] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: That’s not
dirt he’s scooping up. You’re looking at dried resin,
particular expedition, the guys have come to Colombia to
hunt for three legendary landraces– Limon Verde, Punta Roja,
and Colombian Gold. Since it was too dangerous to
stay at the grow op, we would start hunting for the Limon
Verde the next morning. Then we got stuck. ARJAN ROSKAM: Our
truck is stuck. We’re going to have
to push it out. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: We had heard
horror stories about what happens in the southern jungles
of Colombia at night. And Gato told us that FARC
guerrillas abducted a French journalist last year, and that
this June an American was stabbed to death by bandits
on the road. We knew we had to get the
hell out of there. So we can’t fucking
move the truck. We moved it about five meters
or so, but then it’s stuck again. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: We’ve been
putting a bunch of vegetation and shit under the wheels. And it’s moved, but it’s
not going to work. It’s fucking tough. It’s muddy out here. And I don’t think this truck’s
going to move today. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] [ENGINE REVVING] [YELLING] -Push, push! -Keep pushing. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Colombia’s
landrace genetics have been on Arjan’s wish list for years. But up until now, it’s been far
too dangerous to venture deep into the jungle. The last 50 years have seen
a brutal internal conflict between a slew of armed factions
allied with different political ideologies. It’s all kind of confusing, but
when it comes down to it, it’s a war over who controls
the drug trade. Though it’s gotten better,
things are still really bad. After finally getting our truck
out of the mud, we woke up the next morning
to startling news. The guerrilla’s
second-in-command was killed yesterday in a bloody
shoot-out. ARJAN ROSKAM: Here’s
the body bags. This is the area we
are at right now. This is the guy. There’ll be some extra attention
today, because one of the big leaders
has passed away. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Our plan was
to go back to Gato’s place and then head further into
the mountains to find the Limon Verde. We were smoking weed
the whole ride up. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Every time we
hit a military checkpoint, I was sure we were fucked. Unfazed, Gato disarmed
each situation. EL GATO: Because my two brothers
got killed in the last three years by some
fuckers in [INAUDIBLE]. They killed my family and like
control the business now here in Colombia, but just because
they’re bandits. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Even still,
he’s intensely passionate about weed and weed culture. EL GATO: We’re just doing our
thing because it’s our fucking mission in life. And we’re happy to
do it, you know. And it’s not a matter of
why you do it or not. You just do it, because
you don’t feel criminal for doing it. For you, it’s like having cows
and milk them, you know. ARJAN ROSKAM: So we’re going to
try to make a new attempt today to speak to the leaders,
because we need permission from them to go around here
in these mountains. Otherwise we’re going
to go get kidnapped and have big problems. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] ARJAN ROSKAM: Oh you know,
instead of us going up in the mountains there, they know where
they’re hanging out. I think they just made a last
moment to show– oh, they probably knew already yesterday
to surprise us. FRANCO LOJA: Is it a good
sign or a bad sign? ARJAN ROSKAM: Yeah,
it’s very good. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: With tensions
so high, we couldn’t just blaze through
guerrilla-controlled territory without getting permission
first. But the leaders didn’t
want to be on camera. -Go, guys. -[INAUDIBLE] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: The leaders
granted us permission. But before we could freely hunt
in their territory, they would need four days to verify
Arjan’s legitimacy and let everyone in the area know
what we were doing. So Arjan decided that we would
suspend our search for the Limon Verde and head north to
the city of Santa Marta to look for the other two landraces
we were after– Punta Roja and Colombian Gold. Santa Marta is a city literally
built on weed. In the ’60s and ’70s, tons and
tons of Colombian Gold were exported north through the
Caribbean to the US. Hundreds of peasant farmers
became drug lords overnight. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] FRANCO LOJA: We are after two
of the most famous landraces in cannabis history– Colombian Santa Marta Gold,
and then there’s a high-altitude strain
called Punta Roja. It means red dot. ARJAN ROSKAM: Every day
is a great day. EL GATO: Soon we’ll be fucking
politicians, man. ARJAN ROSKAM: We’re
going to scout landraces up from the air. And then later we can
go with the cars. We can go into the areas and to
find the fields back with the coordinates we
have on our GPS. ARJAN ROSKAM: Then everybody
says to us, yeah I know there’s not so much
marijuana anymore. But yeah, everywhere
you go, it grows. It’s like a green avalanche. It’s unstoppable. -It’s a complex mix
between laboratory science and real fieldwork. And that’s why when the big
corporations get interested in marijuana, they can’t
do it alone. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: With the info
obtained from the chopper ride, we headed into the Sierra
Nevada mountains. Gato’s connections would
take it from there. FRANCO LOJA: This is the area
of Colombia where the whole marijuana trade started
back in the 1970s. The people produced an enormous
amount of money by exporting large quantities
of landrace. They basically built the
city Santa Marta out of cannabis money. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: The field was
full of Colombian Gold. Punta Roja, however, was much
more difficult to find. FRANCO LOJA: This looks really
like the original. You see the red, the
red in the hairs– original Punta Roja marking. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: And it’s
a little more mature. FRANCO LOJA: And you see
it’s more mature. There are seeds inside. You see how sativa
the leaf is. No overlapping whatsoever. Extremely long leaflets. Spaced in between the leaflets,
you can read a newspaper through this leaf. It’s like, you know– I think we can dig. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Can
you find the seeds? FRANCO LOJA: I think we can
dig right this second. We can dig for some
beans here. Let’s dig for some beans. I feel it. I feel it. But it’s young. This is not mature. Let’s look lower in the plant,
because usually when it gets pollen, it gets earlier
in the stage. Here we go. Here we go. Please be brown. Please be brown. Yes. It’s brown enough. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Nice. FRANCO LOJA: It’s not
really mature. It could be a couple
weeks older to be considered a very good seed. But it’s mature enough
to germinate. This is the original landrace
material that I can breed, that I can store in my library,
that I can use to create new genetics that are
going to win Cannabis Cups, that are going to make people
rich, that are going to put people in jail, that are going
to change destinies and lives. And this is why I wake
up with a smile every fucking day of my life. Right here. I love this. -We got seeds, man. ARJAN ROSKAM: Here, this
is a really good plant. Let’s collect all
the stuff here. FRANCO LOJA: Man, we
keep this seed organized, and it fucking– KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: You think
you’re organized? What kind of pussy bag
is that, dude? KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Is
that a pussy bag? ARJAN ROSKAM: This is a bag. We seal them. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Then what
do you with them? Put them in your balls? ARJAN ROSKAM: They
go with my balls. That’s how prestige they
are, you know. We’re going keep them here. Let’s go to the next one. We have a big factory. We have a factory
with 800 lights. This is where we bring
our seeds back from different countries. FRANCO LOJA: We plant a large
number of seeds– 10, maybe 20,000 seeds. And then we select maybe five,
maybe 10, really good individuals. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: How do
you get the seeds back? FRANCO LOJA: By sending them in
the mail, if it’s possible. Because they’re small, they
don’t contain any THC. If you clean them properly from
the green materials, they don’t smell. Dogs don’t even smell them. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU:
And it’s legal. It’s technically legal. FRANCO LOJA: In Holland, yes. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: In Holland. FRANCO LOJA: So when we land
in Holland with the seeds, nobody cares. It’s only about leaving the
country where you are with the seeds, it can be an issue. Our life is one foot legal,
one foot illegal. We juggle on this fucking razor
blade all our life, bro. That’s what we do. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] ARJAN ROSKAM: I don’t understand
why governments repress this product so much. It’s completely ridiculous. There’s absolutely no way that
you can say this is a normal way of doing things. If this plant will be legal,
many guerrillas and other people would not have money to
finance war against local farmers or other farmers
or other people. And the tobacco industry
wouldn’t have such big feet in the world. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Business and
marijuana can be like a big fuck you to big corporations
if done right. ARJAN ROSKAM: This is exactly
the problem of why it’s illegal. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: They
found the seeds. Everyone seems to be pretty
fucking excited. It was amazing to hear what
Franco had to say. He clearly knows what
he’s talking about. And this is what they
come here for. And if they’re innovating
business from this kind of R&D, it sounds like a kind
of win-win situation. Or at least I’m having
a good time. Oh look, I got spotted ones. FRANCO LOJA: Ay yi yi. My man, my man. The signature is here. We have a Punta Roja in
the house, my man. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Beautiful. FRANCO LOJA: Fuck. The library gets richer
and richer, Arjan. Our competitors dream of
what we have– dream. It’s going to be embarrassing
soon. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: After five
days without a break, and with two of the three landraces
in the bag, Arjan decided to take a day off. ARJAN ROSKAM: We work
really, really hard. But we also like to have a
really, really good time. [MUSIC PLAYING] KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Arjan is a
polarizing figure in the weed-growing community. While he has millions of
followers on social media and his businesses thrive,
weed-growing forums around the web attack the quality
of his seeds– -Yeah, I can’t believe
Green House won. As far as their weed, not
even close to being the best, at all. Well, you don’t get my
popularity vote. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: –while others
just find his bravado off-putting. -Dude, you’re tripping. Look at this. I think he might be in a
little bit of denial. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: But the
biggest issue centers around the White Widow strain and
a man named Shantibaba. The two split in 1998 and have
since argued over who, in fact, created the strain. With a lack of legal structure
to settle a dispute, it’s now purely a clash of inflated
personalities. ARJAN ROSKAM: It’s a group of
people who don’t like us. It’s all kinds of people
who fight us. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Arjan’s an
easy target, but it doesn’t seem to slow him down. In Holland we say as long as
the people speak about you, everything is good. You should worry when
they don’t think speak about you anymore. Then you have the really
big problem. EL GATO: See? You see, Jackson? Fresher are impossible, man. This as fresh as you can get. ARJAN ROSKAM: If we can live
our dream, if you can live your hobby, if you can make
from your hobby your work, that’s the best satisfaction
you can have in life. -[SINGING] This is how we do na na na. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: So we have
permission now from the local leaders to go back to Cali to
check out the Limon Verde. We’re going to go back to the
airport, fly to Bogota, then from Bogota to Cali, then a
three-hour drive up into the mountains, and a hike to finally
find the Limon Verde. EL GATO: [SINGING] I’m going, going back,
back to Cali, Cali. California. [COUGHING] -[SPEAKING SPANISH] ARJAN ROSKAM: The moment that
we approached the field, you heard the gunshots on the other
side of the mountain. So it just wakes you
up, you know. We are a bunch of smokers, but
at the same time, we know we’re doing something
technically very stupid. I have never failed, I have
to say, finding something. And I said to everyone, we are
the guys who are going to conquer these mountains. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: As soon as we
got there, Franco spotted a newly harvested pile of the
Limon Verde, which we learned is also known as
a Mango Biche. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] ARJAN ROSKAM: This is an
emergency way of cleaning seeds really quickly. -Arjan! -Mango Biche. ARJAN ROSKAM: No, no. We can’t mix this. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: So you just
found these at someone’s house on the side of the
road, right? ARJAN ROSKAM: Yeah. It’s really like organic
roadkill. In some countries, also in
Colombia but especially in Thailand, there’s so much
inbreeding now. There’s a lot of
hermaphrodism. That’s the thing we don’t
want in our plants. But it would be very helpful if
in the lab already we can determine if these genes are
appearing in these plants before we start working
with them. It would save a lot of
time and effort. This is a once in 100 years that
you drive in an area, and you see a bunch of plants, and
you pick one out, you know. You must be really lucky. FRANCO LOJA: Wow, man– the
first flowering stages. Wow. This is exciting, dude. -Whoa, Arjan. FRANCO LOJA: This is excite–
wow, colors. -Look at this. This is the real Punta
Roja over here. FRANCO LOJA: Colors,
colors, colors. And the size of the field here,
you can see it’s at least 3,000 plants, 4,000
plants in total. ARJAN ROSKAM: Oh,
this is more. FRANCO LOJA: More? ARJAN ROSKAM: This is more
than a hectare, huh? FRANCO LOJA: It’s 6, 7,000
plants for sure. This work is priceless. It’s where it constitutes what
is called cannabis culture. That is the real treasure,
I think. ARJAN ROSKAM: All these
buds, you can see this is one line here. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: It’s already, yeah, coming out already. It’s articulated itself. ARJAN ROSKAM: It’s really
important to just have a look at all the plants that
are in the field. You keep pushing, you
keep pushing. And sometimes you
push too hard. And then everything turns. We fly to the north
of the country. We come back, and then
it all turns out to be completely perfect. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: So
we’ve definitely found the Limon Verde. It seems like we found a whole
bunch of other stuff. And we’re on the side
of a mountain. And there’s about thousands of
marijuana plants around us. I guess we’re going
to keep searching for something better. EL GATO: You don’t know
how to climb. Man, you can’t imagine
this shit. FRANCO LOJA: Landrace, dude. EL GATO: This is landrace. FRANCO LOJA: Fuck. EL GATO: You can tell. FRANCO LOJA: –massive field. There is like hectares,
full of pot. -Wow. FRANCO LOJA: Unbelievable. This is like two,
three, hectares, like 20, 30,000 plants. And then you know that you’re
going to find a champion there if you look long enough. EL GATO: Holla if you hear me. I got the hook-up. FRANCO LOJA: I want
to hug you bro. Fuck. EL GATO: I fucking
tell you, man. We’ve got the hook-up. ARJAN ROSKAM: And you
see all these buds growing of Limon Verde. The penultimate moment
of our mission. FRANCO LOJA: Verde Limon,
here we come– original, in Colombia. ARJAN ROSKAM: This is the
pinnacle [INAUDIBLE]. FRANCO LOJA: 2,058 meters in
the Sierras, full of pot. We added three ingredients to
the mix here in this mission– three very important
ingredients, three real pure landraces. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: There were
moments where I suspected that strain hunting was some
elaborate marketing scheme, devised by Arjan to literally
spread his seed and show the world how daring he is. But by the end of our trip, I
had a guarded respect for him and his lofty ambitions. FRANCO LOJA: When it becomes
an industry, it’s because there are serious business
people like Arjan that can make an impact. Before that, it’s just a bunch
of hippies getting high. ARJAN ROSKAM: We have a list. We want to do 15 more countries in the next 10 years. FRANCO LOJA: At least. ARJAN ROSKAM: At least. Maybe we’ll do 20. KRISHNA ANDAVOLU: Legalization
is changing the weed industry. New laws and more permissive
laws are creating a new kind of capitalism. And Arjan, love him or hate
him, is the face of it. ARJAN ROSKAM: We all know that
in 10 to 20 years, everything will be legal. So we are just finding all
the keys for the future. And one of the keys is all the
different landraces I think we are exactly on the right moment
in the right business. -[SPEAKING SPANISH] EL GATO: Their energy was cut. So they’re protesting
because they don’t have energy service. And they were blocking
the road. But now, because we offered them
the possibility to show this to the world, they’re
going to let us pass. [YELLING]

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