Sunday, August 16, 2015

Solved: Mystery of the Hemp Plantation in China

I thought I had some substance. I even wanted to tip some international media or Chinese police. I am sure they have some sort of DEA and that DEA needed to listen to my intel: I had discovered a huge marijuana plantation hidden in plain sight in one of the most dangerous places to deal drugs.

Location: Taishan. Shandong Taian, one of the holiest sites in China, actually THE holiest.

Let’s start from 2014, a year earlier. I went to Taian on a Kungfu training retreat, me and a bunch of other excited foreign students from the city of Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province. We were supposed to learn Qigong from a real Taoist master who actually lives in the mountains. We were to meet him on the foot of Mount Tai, or Taishan, in Mandarin.

All over the place, mon
We watched the guy do his thing, which ended up just being an ad for the kungfu school that engaged us.

As we streamed downhill, I noticed that lined along the path were rows and rows of marijuana plants. In my journalism days back in Africa, I once went to interview a marijuana planter in his own garden, a story which I must add was spiked by my superiors for legal reasons.

But you guess right, I know my weed. I can spot it from a far. I told the guys I was with that they were in the middle of a weed field and it was followed by a frenzy with everyone uprooting some samples, some seeing it for the first time. People wondered how I spotted the plant, and accused me of dabbling in this Jamaican pastime. I could not convince them, but verily and honestly, I do not engage in this faculty of Rasta business.

I was psyched
That passed…and so did the year. In June of 2015, I took my date for a hike, joining the thousands that go up the mountain to view the famous sunrise at the peak. We went up the mountain at night, I never had the chance to survey the flora of the mountain.

After the excitement of the rising sun died and people started streaming down together with the light from the now strong sun, I saw the weed ghost again. There was hemp growing everywhere one Iooked. Huge healthy plants, newly germinated and those in between.
I was so excited that my date got irritated of me focusing too much on the international herb and not her amazing beauty, but really who would blame me? I posed in the weed, smelled it, plucked some and yes, I did not pack or sample any.

This was high at the peak. As we went down, I kept seeing seas of weed on the mountainside. I was convinced that some clever ganja farmer used the holy mountain for his weedy business.
The Ganja leaf on holy land
I admired this unknown guy, he was clever, with land scarce in China the mountain is free unused land and also the weed blend in with the vegetation and does not seem planted. This guy also knows that a majority of Chinese people cannot recognize a hemp plant so growing it in plain sight is not an issue.

I was wrong. 

I went to hike another mountain to see the older Great Wall and we also found weed there. I went to another Province – Shanxi, and saw huge weed plants growing along the road. It is likely to be just a natural plant here, after all they say weed came from India, which is really just across the border…same climate, therefore same vegetation.

I man
It was a sad day for me. I really felt like Sherlock Holmes at some point. I was just bad a geography, it seems.

But still, it could be possible that all the three sites I saw weed growing are actually weed farms and that is just how the weed planters of China roll. Possible, I said.

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