Ben Dronkers is the founder of the Sensi Seed Bank, HempFlax, and the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum.
As a young man in the late 1960s, Ben Dronkers worked on merchant ships which sailed from his native Rotterdam to various exotic locations. This was the beginning of Ben’s lifelong passion for travel. Later, when he decided to try his hand at designing and creating distinctive clothing for his own shop he travelled to Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to buy fabrics and discovered the advantages of hemp fibre.
Inspired to Collect Cannabis Seeds
He also bought cannabis in these countries. He relates with a smile, “I asked the farmers about cannabis plants and they laughed rather secretively. One of them gave me a handful of cannabis seeds as a gift and told me the seeds were very important. Naturally, this inspired me to preserve them, to learn about the qualities of seeds from different regions, and to collect more.”
Exceptional New Hybrids
By the time he returned to the Netherlands, Ben had assembled an extensive collection of cannabis genetics from all over Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the Subcontinent. Starting with these important building blocks, he began breeding his own cannabis strains and hybrids. In the early Eighties, an influx of new strains from the USA provided more gene-stock from which to create more exceptional hybrids. Establishing the Sensi Seed Club in 1985 enabled him to share his success with fellow enthusiasts.
Sharing the Knowledge
During his travels, Ben also collected unusual, beautiful and rare artefacts connected to the world of cannabis and hemp. As he became more aware of the history and potential of global cannabis and hemp use, he became more passionate about sharing his knowledge and collection with the public.
Along with his friend and fellow cannabis activist, Ed Rosenthal, this led to the opening of the Hash Info Museum, which would grow to become the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, one of Amsterdam’s major tourist attractions.
More Cannabis Genetics
In 1991, Ben bought another seed bank from a breeder who had also been working with the US hybrids since the Eighties and the gene-stock of the two companies was merged to form the Sensi Seed Bank we know today. More new strains followed and the company went from strength to strength.
Reviving the Hemp Industry
Not content to merely talk about the wonderful things that hemp is capable of, in 1994 Ben Dronkers founded HempFlax, a company in the north of Holland dedicated to growing and processing industrial hemp. Over the following years he invested tens of millions of euros in this courageous and ultimately successful bid to revive the once-thriving Dutch hemp industry.
Sensi in Paradise
Ben Dronkers also continued to travel and spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand which he found so beautiful and welcoming that he founded the Sensi Paradise Resort on the island of Koh Tao. He still spends several months a year in this gorgeous location. A second Sensi Resort in Borneo is currently under construction.
The Museum Gallery
In 2009, the Museum Gallery was opened, a much-needed annex to the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum. Ben is understandably proud of this addition to the Sensi family, where some of his favorite pieces are showcased. The Gallery displays Old Masters, painted hundreds of years ago, which depict ordinary men and women enjoying the smoking of cannabis.
Cannabis museum in Barcelona
In the same year, the museum expanded to Barcelona. With great media interest and in the presence of entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum Barcelona was officially opened by cultural anthropologist Josep Ferigla, on the 9th of May 2012. The Palau Mornau, as the stunning building in the centre of Barcelona’s Gothic quarter is known, is a genuine modernistic palace dedicated to cannabis.
As Ben enters his 60s, it is doubtful that he will rest on his laurels. His dedication to the marvelous multifaceted plant cannabis Sativa L. spurs him on to new challenges each year. Though many of his ideas are now a thriving reality, there are always new possibilities to explore for this cannabis entrepreneur.