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Saturday, November 12, 2016

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[music playing] krishna andavolu: we're onthe side of a mountain. and there's about thousands ofmarijuana plants around us. -this is like, two,three hectares-- like 20, 30,000 plants. and then you know that you'regoing to find a champion there if you look long enough. it's a massive field,full of pot. krishna andavolu: you might notknow who arjan roskam is,

but you've probablysmoked his weed. since 1985, arjan's beenproducing some of the most well-known strains of marijuanaout of amsterdam. we joined up with him and hiscrew in colombia to look for three rare marijuana strains. so after about a few hours ofsleep, we're headed to cali to check out the biggest weedoperation in colombia. -good. let's rock and roll.

krishna andavolu: first stop,the massive grow operation of local legend el gato, arjan'skey colombian contact. he'd be our guide throughoutthe 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: colombiaproduces the most cocaine in the world.

but it's also one of the mostfertile places on earth to grow cannabis. and while the country allowsfor recreational amounts of marijuana, growing weed on anindustrial scale remains highly illegal. arjan roskam: ifyou look at the plants, they're all moving. you feel a little breezegoing through. not too much, but just enoughto make them strong and make

sure there's no staleair around the buds. this is the biggestin colombia. it's probably maybe the biggestin south america. or paraguay also havereally big ones. -not like this. arjan roskam: but notlike this, and not this kind of quality. krishna andavolu: in 1992, arjanopened his first coffee shop in amsterdam, andhas since crafted

marijuana-breeding skills into amarket-savvy empire known as green house seed company. he's won 38 cannabis cups. he's even dubbed himselfthe king of cannabis. -all hail the king. arjan roskam: we thought maybeif we create a king of cannabis, maybe all the rapperswill come, maybe famous artists will come. they will spread theword for us.

busta rhymes: congratulatethe king of the cannabis. salud. krishna andavolu: these days,he's often found in amsterdam. and when he's not there, he'sstrain-hunting, scouring the entire world looking for rare,untouched marijuana strains that are known as landraces. arjan roskam: we arethe guys who travel all around the world. we see where thegood stuff is.

and we try to bring back theknowledge that we gain here. we are the only guys who goreally into the bush and really to the danger areas. krishna andavolu: with authenticseeds in hand, he brings them back to the lab inamsterdam to develop new varieties of marijuana. his companies bring in millionsof dollars a year. arjan roskam: here you see agrow room that's done with a minimal amount of money, butintuitive perfection.

so this is the most healthyway of growing marijuana, preserving nature, and in theend, smoking the product. because it's so perfect. how many plants? 8,000. -8,000. arjan roskam: how many kilos? arjan roskam: every cropor 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 ofgathering around these plants to do a little shoot for theirmarketing 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 bagsare in good height? our faces are good visible? -fuck yeah. fuck yeah, man. krishna andavolu: as marijuanabecomes legal in more and more countries around the world,arjan roskam has set himself up to be the first billionaireof bud. franco loja: they're raisingof them already.

it's three weeks away frombeing harvested. incredible. krishna andavolu: arjan'sbusiness partner and head breeder is franco loja, aparatrooper in the italian military turned grower. franco loja: i used to beperceived as a criminal when i was in italy. now i'm a guy that has 50,000friends on facebook and people asking for autographs and wantto take pictures with me.

the beauty of cannabis, thepower of cannabis-- it's its variety. it's the fact that there areso many flavors, so many effects, medicinaland recreational. it's a plant, but it'snot one plant. it's thousands of plants. arjan roskam: now as we look, weare in a great plantation. but it's still veryillegal, what the people are doing here.

and they're all jeopardizingtheir life in prison and everything, you know. -[speaking spanish] arjan roskam: [speaking spanish] arjan roskam: yousprayed zerotol? -zerotol. arjan roskam: the people whoare running this operation lost their father,their brothers. so this gives you just an ideaof how rough the past was.

and now they're marijuanagrowers. that's the greatestthing on earth. they go from the guerrillato growing marijuana. what else do you want tohave on this planet? krishna andavolu: that's notdirt he's scooping up. you're looking at dried resin,soon to be hash. -[inaudible] krishna andavolu: on thisparticular expedition, the guys have come to colombia tohunt for three legendary

landraces-- limon verde, punta roja,and colombian gold. since it was too dangerous tostay at the grow op, we would start hunting for the limonverde the next morning. then we got stuck. arjan roskam: ourtruck is stuck. we're going to haveto push it out. krishna andavolu: we had heardhorror stories about what happens in the southern junglesof colombia at night.

and gato told us that farcguerrillas abducted a french journalist last year, and thatthis june an american was stabbed to death by banditson the road. we knew we had to get thehell out of there. so we can't fuckingmove the truck. we moved it about five metersor so, but then it's stuck again. krishna andavolu: we've beenputting a bunch of vegetation and shit under the wheels.

and it's moved, but it'snot going to work. it's fucking tough. it's muddy out here. and i don't think this truck'sgoing to move today. [engine revving] [yelling] -push, push! -keep pushing. krishna andavolu: colombia'slandrace genetics have been on

arjan's wish list for years. but up until now, it's been fartoo dangerous to venture deep into the jungle. the last 50 years have seena brutal internal conflict between a slew of armed factionsallied with different political ideologies. it's all kind of confusing, butwhen it comes down to it, it's a war over who controlsthe drug trade. though it's gotten better,things are still really bad.

after finally getting our truckout of the mud, we woke up the next morningto startling news. the guerrilla'ssecond-in-command was killed yesterday in a bloodyshoot-out. arjan roskam: here'sthe body bags. this is the area weare at right now. this is the guy. there'll be some extra attentiontoday, because one of the big leadershas passed away.

krishna andavolu: our plan wasto go back to gato's place and then head further intothe mountains to find the limon verde. we were smoking weedthe whole ride up. krishna andavolu: every time wehit a military checkpoint, i was sure we were fucked. unfazed, gato disarmedeach situation. el gato: because my two brothersgot killed in the last three years by somefuckers in [inaudible].

they killed my family and likecontrol the business now here in colombia, but just becausethey're bandits. krishna andavolu: even still,he's intensely passionate about weed and weed culture. el gato: we're just doing ourthing because it's our fucking mission in life. and we're happy todo it, you know. and it's not a matter ofwhy you do it or not. you just do it, becauseyou don't feel

criminal for doing it. for you, it's like having cowsand milk them, you know. arjan roskam: so we're going totry to make a new attempt today to speak to the leaders,because we need permission from them to go around herein these mountains. otherwise we're goingto go get kidnapped and have big problems. arjan roskam: oh you know,instead of us going up in the mountains there, they know wherethey're hanging out.

i think they just made a lastmoment to show-- oh, they probably knew already yesterdayto surprise us. franco loja: is it a goodsign or a bad sign? arjan roskam: yeah,it's very good. krishna andavolu: with tensionsso high, we couldn't just blaze throughguerrilla-controlled territory without getting permissionfirst. but the leaders didn'twant to be on camera. -go, guys.

krishna andavolu: the leadersgranted us permission. but before we could freely huntin their territory, they would need four days to verifyarjan's legitimacy and let everyone in the area knowwhat we were doing. so arjan decided that we wouldsuspend our search for the limon verde and head north tothe city of santa marta to look for the other two landraceswe were after-- punta roja and colombian gold. santa marta is a city literallybuilt on weed.

in the '60s and '70s, tons andtons of colombian gold were exported north through thecaribbean to the us. hundreds of peasant farmersbecame drug lords overnight. franco loja: we are after twoof the most famous landraces in cannabis history-- colombian santa marta gold,and then there's a high-altitude straincalled punta roja. it means red dot. arjan roskam: every dayis a great day.

el gato: soon we'll be fuckingpoliticians, man. arjan roskam: we'regoing to scout landraces up from the air. and then later we cango with the cars. we can go into the areas and tofind the fields back with the coordinates wehave on our gps. arjan roskam: then everybodysays to us, yeah i know there's not so muchmarijuana anymore. but yeah, everywhereyou go, it grows.

it's like a green avalanche. it's unstoppable. -it's a complex mixbetween laboratory science and real fieldwork. and that's why when the bigcorporations get interested in marijuana, they can'tdo it alone. krishna andavolu: with the infoobtained from the chopper ride, we headed into the sierranevada mountains. gato's connections wouldtake it from there.

franco loja: this is the areaof colombia where the whole marijuana trade startedback in the 1970s. the people produced an enormousamount of money by exporting large quantitiesof landrace. they basically built thecity santa marta out of cannabis money. krishna andavolu: the field wasfull of colombian gold. punta roja, however, was muchmore difficult to find. franco loja: this looks reallylike the original.

you see the red, thered in the hairs-- original punta roja marking. krishna andavolu: and it'sa little more mature. franco loja: and you seeit's more mature. there are seeds inside. you see how sativathe 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: canyou find the seeds? franco loja: i think we candig right this second. we can dig for somebeans here. let's dig for some beans. 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 earlierin the stage. here we go. please be brown. yes. it's brown enough. krishna andavolu: nice. franco loja: it's notreally mature.

it could be a coupleweeks older to be considered a very good seed. but it's mature enoughto germinate. this is the original landracematerial that i can breed, that i can store in my library,that i can use to create new genetics that aregoing to win cannabis cups, that are going to make peoplerich, that are going to put people in jail, that are goingto change destinies and lives. and this is why i wakeup with a smile every

fucking day of my life. right here. i love this. -we got seeds, man. arjan roskam: here, thisis a really good plant. let's collect allthe stuff here. franco loja: man, wekeep this seed organized, and it fucking-- krishna andavolu: you thinkyou're organized?

what kind of pussy bagis that, dude? krishna andavolu: isthat a pussy bag? arjan roskam: this is a bag. we seal them. krishna andavolu: then whatdo you with them? put them in your balls? arjan roskam: theygo with my balls. that's how prestige theyare, you know. we're going keep them here.

let's go to the next one. we have a big factory. we have a factorywith 800 lights. this is where we bringour seeds back from different countries. franco loja: we plant a largenumber of seeds-- 10, maybe 20,000 seeds. and then we select maybe five,maybe 10, really good individuals.

krishna andavolu: how doyou get the seeds back? franco loja: by sending them inthe mail, if it's possible. because they're small, theydon't contain any thc. if you clean them properly fromthe 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 landin holland with the seeds, nobody cares. it's only about leaving thecountry 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 razorblade all our life, bro. that's what we do. arjan roskam: i don't understandwhy governments

repress this product so much. it's completely ridiculous. there's absolutely no way thatyou 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 tofinance war against local farmers or other farmersor other people. and the tobacco industrywouldn't have such big feet in the world.

krishna andavolu: business andmarijuana can be like a big fuck you to big corporationsif done right. arjan roskam: this is exactlythe problem of why it's illegal. krishna andavolu: theyfound the seeds. everyone seems to be prettyfucking excited. it was amazing to hear whatfranco had to say. he clearly knows whathe's talking about. and this is what theycome here for.

and if they're innovatingbusiness from this kind of r&d, it sounds like a kindof win-win situation. or at least i'm havinga 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 inthe house, my man. krishna andavolu: beautiful.

franco loja: fuck. the library gets richerand richer, arjan. our competitors dream ofwhat we have-- dream. it's going to be embarrassingsoon. krishna andavolu: after fivedays without a break, and with two of the three landracesin the bag, arjan decided to take a day off. arjan roskam: we workreally, really hard. but we also like to have areally, really good time.

krishna andavolu: arjan is apolarizing figure in the weed-growing community. while he has millions offollowers on social media and his businesses thrive,weed-growing forums around the web attack the qualityof his seeds-- -yeah, i can't believegreen house won. as far as their weed, noteven close to being the best, at all. well, you don't get mypopularity vote.

krishna andavolu: --while othersjust find his bravado off-putting. -dude, you're tripping. look at this. i think he might be in alittle bit of denial. krishna andavolu: but thebiggest issue centers around the white widow strain anda man named shantibaba. the two split in 1998 and havesince argued over who, in fact, created the strain.

with a lack of legal structureto settle a dispute, it's now purely a clash of inflatedpersonalities. arjan roskam: it's a group ofpeople who don't like us. it's all kinds of peoplewho fight us. krishna andavolu: arjan's aneasy target, but it doesn't seem to slow him down. in holland we say as long asthe people speak about you, everything is good. you should worry whenthey don't think

speak about you anymore. then you have the reallybig problem. el gato: see? you see, jackson? fresher are impossible, man. this as fresh as you can get. arjan roskam: if we can liveour dream, if you can live your hobby, if you can makefrom your hobby your work, that's the best satisfactionyou can have in life.

-[singing] this is how we do na na na. krishna andavolu: so we havepermission now from the local leaders to go back to cali tocheck out the limon verde. we're going to go back to theairport, fly to bogota, then from bogota to cali, then athree-hour drive up into the mountains, and a hike to finallyfind the limon verde. el gato: [singing] i'm going, going back,back to cali, cali.

california. [coughing] arjan roskam: the moment thatwe approached the field, you heard the gunshots on the otherside of the mountain. so it just wakes youup, you know. we are a bunch of smokers, butat the same time, we know we're doing somethingtechnically very stupid. i have never failed, i haveto say, finding something. and i said to everyone, we arethe guys who are going to

conquer these mountains. krishna andavolu: as soon as wegot there, franco spotted a newly harvested pile of thelimon verde, which we learned is also known asa mango biche. arjan roskam: this is anemergency way of cleaning seeds really quickly. -arjan! -mango biche. arjan roskam: no, no.

we can't mix this. krishna andavolu: so you justfound these at someone's house on the side of theroad, right? arjan roskam: yeah. it's really like organicroadkill. in some countries, also incolombia but especially in thailand, there's so muchinbreeding now. there's a lot ofhermaphrodism. that's the thing we don'twant in our plants.

but it would be very helpful ifin the lab already we can determine if these genes areappearing in these plants before we start workingwith them. it would save a lot oftime and effort. this is a once in 100 years thatyou drive in an area, and you see a bunch of plants, andyou pick one out, you know. you must be really lucky. franco loja: wow, man-- thefirst flowering stages. wow.

this is exciting, dude. -whoa, arjan. franco loja: this is excite--wow, colors. -look at this. this is the real puntaroja over here. franco loja: colors,colors, colors. and the size of the field here,you can see it's at least 3,000 plants, 4,000plants in total. arjan roskam: oh,this is more.

franco loja: more? arjan roskam: this is morethan a hectare, huh? franco loja: it's 6, 7,000plants for sure. this work is priceless. it's where it constitutes whatis called cannabis culture. that is the real treasure,i think. arjan roskam: all thesebuds, 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 reallyimportant to just have a look at all the plants thatare in the field. you keep pushing, youkeep pushing. and sometimes youpush too hard. and then everything turns. we fly to the northof the country. we come back, and thenit all turns out to

be completely perfect. krishna andavolu: sowe've definitely found the limon verde. it seems like we found a wholebunch of other stuff. and we're on the sideof a mountain. i guess we're goingto keep searching for something better. el gato: you don't knowhow to climb. man, you can't imaginethis shit.

franco loja: landrace, dude. el gato: this is landrace. 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, el gato: holla if you hear me.

i got the hook-up. franco loja: i wantto hug you bro. fuck. el gato: i fuckingtell you, man. we've got the hook-up. arjan roskam: and yousee all these buds growing of limon verde. the penultimate momentof our mission. franco loja: verde limon,here we come--

original, in colombia. arjan roskam: this is thepinnacle [inaudible]. franco loja: 2,058 meters inthe sierras, full of pot. we added three ingredients tothe mix here in this mission-- three very importantingredients, three real pure landraces. krishna andavolu: there weremoments where i suspected that strain hunting was someelaborate marketing scheme, devised by arjan to literallyspread his seed and show the

world how daring he is. but by the end of our trip, ihad a guarded respect for him and his lofty ambitions. franco loja: when it becomesan industry, it's because there are serious businesspeople like arjan that can make an impact. before that, it's just a bunchof 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: legalizationis changing the weed industry. new laws and more permissivelaws are creating a new kind of capitalism. and arjan, love him or hatehim, is the face of it. arjan roskam: we all know thatin 10 to 20 years, everything

will be legal. so we are just finding allthe keys for the future. and one of the keys is all thedifferent landraces i think we are exactly on the right momentin the right business. el gato: their energy was cut. so they're protestingbecause they don't have energy service. and they were blockingthe road. but now, because we offered themthe possibility to show

this to the world, they'regoing to let us pass.

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