Police on Wednesday found and destroyed 520 marijuana plants growing on farmland in Battambang province’s Mong Russei district, police said yesterday.
The 2-meter-high plants had been growing with cassava plants on a 120-square-meter patch of remote farmland, 15 km from National Road 5, for about 3 months said Kith Heang, Mong Russei district police chief.
Mr Heang said his police officers destroyed the illegal crop by chopping it into small pieces and throwing it into the canal. “It is the first time that we have destroyed this many marijuana plants in our district,” he said.
Police did not arrest the farmer, 53-year-old Sen Soeun, because he told police he did not know growing the plants was illegal, and had not sold any marijuana to the villagers, Mr Heang said.
He added that after police informed Mr Soeun that cultivating marijuana was illegal the farmer promised to stop growing the plant.
Acting on a tip from a villager, 30 district police officers set off for the plantation at 4 am Wednesday, arriving at 1 pm. It took them until 4 pm to wipe out the crop, Mr Heang said, and they arrived home after nightfall.
Chao Savong, provincial anti-drug unit police chief, said the marijuana plantation was the largest discovered in Battambang this year, adding it was the second plantation located this year.
“First we destroyed a marijuana farm in Thma Koul district, and [then Wednesday] in Mong Russei district,” he said, adding that over 100 plants were found in Thma Koul in August.
Graham Shaw, a World Health Organization technical officer for Cambodia who deals with issues of drug dependence, said marijuana use was not a priority for his organization.
“Out of all the drugs the UN works with the government on, it’s not really on the radar,” he said. “From the UN point of view it is yama [amphetamines] and heroin which are the drugs of concern, not marijuana. [Marijuana use is] a relatively minor issue in Cambodia.”
(Additional reporting by Lucy Jordan)