Since 1985, Arjan's been producing some of the most well-known strains of marijuana out of Amsterdam. VICE joined up with him and his crew in Colombia to look for three rare marijuana strains.
They're headed to Cali to check out the biggest weed operation in Colombia. First stop, the massive grow operation of local legend El Gato, Arjan's key Colombian contact. He'd be their guide throughout the trip.
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.
These days, Arjan'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. 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's business partner and head breeder is Franco Loja, a paratrooper in the Italian military turned grower.
On this particular expedition, the guys have come to Colombia to hunt for three legendary landraces - Limon Verde, Punta Roja, and Colombian Gold. 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. 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.