Takeo provincial police chief Chheang Phannara urged local authorities in Kiri Vong district’s Preah Bat Chonchum commune to crack down on marijuana cultivation and ensure there are no more plantations in that area.
In an interview with The Post on December 5, Phannara said that in the past two days he led relevant authorities on patrols to investigate and put a stop to marijuana cultivation in the district as the mountains there have become a popular location for growers to operate from in secret.
As a result of the patrols, three cannabis cultivation sites were found and destroyed with an area of 265sqm.
“In Cambodia, marijuana is a drug that is prohibited to grow, store, use and trade. But in Kiri Vong district’s Preah Bat Chonchum commune, they often do so anyways despite clampdowns,” he said.
According to Phannara, growing marijuana in the commune is not a new practice and it has been going on for many generations. However, he said the recurrence of criminal activity in this area is due to the local authorities’ “lack of will to implement the law”.
He said that early next year, he will convene a meeting with all relevant authorities including local police in the 12 communes of Kiri Vong district to further investigate and crack down on all forms of crimes but particularly those related to drugs, including marijuana.
“The first step is for us to work together to eradicate marijuana by investigating and bustling perpetrators and handing them over to court for legal action without exception,” he said.
Commune police chief In Vuth told The Post that the location of the illegal marijuana cultivation was not in the village or on a plantation but rather in the middle of the forest next to the lake and far from villages.
“We have investigated and arrested some villagers involved in the marijuana trade and sent them to court for further legal action, but the activity is still happening,” he said.
According to Vuth, over the years most people in the commune have grown marijuana on their plantations in the village because of the high market price it fetches, which is between 140,000 and 160,000 riel ($35 and $40) per kg for dried leaves. He said it was not difficult to sell to the Vietnamese traders who came to buy it there.
After the government enacted a stricter drug law and marijuana became a banned crop, law enforcement officers continued to educate people to stop growing marijuana, but with mixed results, he said.