It’s a quarter past five in the afternoon, I’m in Paris’s Gare du Nord. I’m downing my coffee in a hurry while smoking my habitual Camel 100’s, under the watchful eye of overzealous cops. I’m already salivating at the thought of tasting one of the 91 varieties produced by the oldest and most prominent business dedicated to cannabis seeds known as Sensi Seeds. A privilege that I owe to a special someone. Thanks to Che Dronkers, two years ago I was lucky enough to interview his father, Ben Dronkers, weed pioneer and founder of Sensi Seeds, and with whom I got to set up a collaboration with. A dream come true ! Since we’ve met, the brilliant entrepreneur has become a friend and took on the responsibility of being the head of a company whose yearly turnover would make many conservative white-collar workers turn pale. Upon arriving at Che’s apartment in the heart of Amsterdam I was welcomed with open arms and treated to a delicious meal along with many local delicacies. Beyond his thoroughly warm approach, Che has brought a new vision and new strategies to the family business, much like his brother did before him. A modern and innovative point of view, that we invite you to learn more about in this hazy interview.
Jacker / How many varieties have you developed since the beginning of Sensi Seeds ?
Che / We developed a lot of varieties which are our own and there is, of course, also our sister company “The White Label”. With that included, we have almost ninety varieties at this point. At the moment we also have interesting projects which are running behind the scenes. We plan to tell the world more about soon.
J / Can you give us a little insight ?
C / Maybe I’ll give you some insight later on in the interview. It might be interesting especially for the French readers, but that’s all I’m saying for now.
J / Sensi focuses a lot on Jack Herer’s friendship with your father...
C / Well Jack Herer has become a reference, it’s a very big name and you can see it on every coffee shop menu in the entire Netherlands. It’s pretty much an industry reference of quality and I might say of course, there’s the honor, the touch, the government-selected cannabis for medicinal use which you can actually buy in a pharmacy now. So Jack Herer is the base of the Dutch medicinal marijuana program. Which is, of course, very interesting. It’s always a good smoke, you can understand for sure. It’s been around for twenty years now.
J / Could you name five varieties which are the best plants of your product ?
C / Yeah of course. We have the leading strains where we won a lot of prices through the years. For instance the Jack Herer, the Northern Lights. For me, personally, I think it’s very important when you get a strain that fits the environment and your skill of growing because you can buy the most difficult plant to grow with a nice return but you know, if you don’t know how to grow it.. You’re better off choosing things that could be easy, develop your growing skills along the way. The results will also be much more pleasing.
J / The company has been running for thirty years. What would you identify as the main steps of the company during all this time ?
C / It would be impossible to name everything because there has been so much going on over the years. The main thing is online-development, that what we love to do and also put us in the front of sources of information like blogs, websites... There’s also of course the philanthropic project, sponsorships and of course, the museum which is already been featured in your previous magazine. I’ve also done Hempflax, which is a big thing, and it’s also something that we are really going to push for 2016 because we think it’s about time for hemp to really break through to become what it should be.
J / That’s why you recently invested money into the Romanian market ?
C / Correct. We just launched the new factory in Romania, the opening was last October. We’re planning to start using factories in January already. We started in 1993 in the Netherlands out of Pekela. So many years later, we go to Romania to open our factories. We’ve created lots of new jobs in the area, it’s very pleasing. We were welcomed with open arms and worked very closely with the government looking at a lot of new ways to use hemp in the productive way, in an unofficial sustainable way of course. I’m not very sure about how many we are going to have next year but it’s going to be really big. Also with the CBD rush going on, we are producing a lot with Hempflax. Which is a new thing, and very very popular. We also sell CBD by Sensi Seeds.
J / Is it only for medicinal use ?
C / We don’t want to make any medicinal strains because it is not allowed if it’s not registered to medicine but I recommend you to do your own research online to see what other people have encountered using the product and make your own conclusions from that. But at this point I won’t be able to give any claims because it’s not my place to do so and you have to be careful with that kind of stuff. Also we are planning to come out with a food brand because we going to produce a lot of seeds in Romania graded for food production. We will probably use it for oils and also for hempseeds as well and market it sometime later this year.
J / As the view on the world is changing, what do you think of an expansion towards change ? Do you think it is the future ?
C / We all can see that we can’t go on using plastics and other sources that we produce now. Hemp is the only sustainable crop in that way. You can use it for many different applications and you can use every single part of the plant. It also enriches the earth so instead leaving the earth dead, years after years, the soil is rich and void of pesticides.
J / What kind of changes and evolutions can you attempt with a company like Sensi ?
C / Well, We have some pretty big plans coming up for 2016 with Sensi and the CBD line which we going to expand, which is a big thing for us ! Also I let you in on a little secret. There will be a tribute to Jack Herer ! We’re going to do a special tribute to him in 2016. We will release two new strains shortly of two celebrities but I can’t tell you more about that right now. It’s definitely going to be fun for the French market, I think you guys, the older hippies and all the smokers in France will appreciate this tribute very much. That’s what I can say for now. We also have some plans for the rest of the year. But that’s super classified.