Ben Dronkers: Cannabis Legend

If you are a true herbal head, you’ll already know about Ben Dronkers cannabis legend. He’s done more for cannabis legalization than most and is one of the true Amsterdam ganja godfathers of the game. Names like Ben Dronkers and Howard Marks go hand in hand like weed and munchies. We are talking about the legendary cannabis businessman and Sensi Seeds founder Ben Dronkers, not the cricketer Ben Donkers.

Sensi Seeds has also been a legendary name on the cannabis growing scene since the 1980s. He founded the business in 1985 and has been at the cutting edge of the Amsterdam cannabis industry since before it was decriminalized. He was growing cannabis plants as far back as 1975 and is one of the true pioneers of the industry that paved the way for all of us.

Blunts and Flavored Papers

Back in the 1980s, when you wanted to smoke weed, it was always via joints, bongs, or other homemade water-based smoking devices, pipes, and contraptions. There weren’t many brands of rolling papers at the time, and there were no blunts or flavored papers whatsoever. We managed to get by, but in the rapidly changing commercial cannabis market of today, the choice of blunts and flavored papers is simply astounding.


Ben Dronkers Amsterdam Cannabis King

Who Is Ben Dronkers?

The Ben Dronkers cannabis empire is pretty impressive. His net worth in 2023 is believed to be around $19m to $20m although there is limited info out there in regards to his wealth. This herbal entrepreneur founded the Sensi Seeds company in 1985, and it’s still believed to be the largest cannabis seed producer today. It’s known as the most extensive cannabis seed bank in the world.

Although they are such a market-leading cannabis seed company, they’ve only managed to scoop two cannabis cups over the years. They won for their strains Jack Herer in 1994 and NL5 x Haze in 1993. Back in 1998, Sensi Seeds stated that some of their mother plants are over two decades old, which at the time was amazing for hybrid strains that had been made in-house by seed companies.

The Early Years

Ben Dronkers was born in 1949 in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Originally, he became a merchant seaman when he left school in the mid-1960s. He worked for the Holland American Line company and traveled to many parts of the world in his younger life. When visiting these countries, he started to collect cannabis seeds such as landraces that he used later to merge with other seeds to create his own strains. In effect, his love for cannabis seeds has already begun.

Lots of those seeds he sourced directly from parts of Asia and India that are still highly sought after today. At the time, the Ben Dronkers cannabis empire was only in its fledgling stages, but her already had a good idea of what he wanted to achieve with seed genetics.

There is not much info out there about Ben and what dealings he had in Amsterdam back in the 1970s when cannabis was still illegal in Holland. The likes of famed cannabis smuggler Howard Marks in his “Mr. Nice” book said he had dealings with Ben and other Amsterdam dealers at the time before the decriminalization, so it only makes sense that his herb-growing activities were secret and remained underground.

Amsterdam Cannabis Decriminalization

In 1976, certain amounts of cannabis became decriminalized in the Netherlands. Coffee shops were permitted to sell up to 5 grams of weed onsite to customers. However, the nuances of the law were rather sketchy as they still are today. This is why we say that cannabis is decriminalized in Amsterdam, not legal per se.

Cops can still confiscate it from you but they cannot search you just because they think you are in possession. It’s a confusing and complicated process and really does buy into the term “Double Dutch” which explains the sketchiness of the law in Holland and their overall demeanor. However, it was the first country in modern times to allow weed to be sold so it was better than the alternative.

Founding Sensi Seeds Bank

After the cannabis laws became relaxed, this gave the Ben Dronker cannabis empire the push it needed to take things to the next level. Ben bought The Seed Bank from Schoenmakers in 1985 and that went on to become the world-famous Sensi Seeds that we know and love today. The company was located in Nijmegen in a building that went on to become known as “Cannabis Castle”.

Dronkers stored all his mother plants in the facility that went on to become the cornerstone of his business and seed bank. Even today, the company is still operating at the highest levels of the cannabis industry thanks to Ben and his vision.

Founding Hash-Marijuana & Hemp Museum

If you are a cannabis fan and have visited Amsterdam, you’ve no doubt made a special pilgrimage to the Hash-Marijuana & Hemp Museum. And if you haven’t, you really are missing out on the fun. It was the first of its kind when it was founded by Dronkers in 1985 and is still a major Amsterdam tourist attraction today almost 40 years later.

The museum is basically the best place in the world to find out about everything about cannabis and hemp history. They have some amazing literature on the history of hemp and how it has been used throughout the ages in a medical and even manufacturing sense. Of course, there is also loads of info on the history of recreational cannabis smoking.

You can find some cool cannabis items in there such as old smoking devices and even relics such as one of Howard Marks’ old fake passports and his prison card. Make sure you visit the museum the next time you are in Amsterdam.

Opening the Hemp Museum in Barcelona, Spain

Because of the success of the original Hash-Marijuana & Hemp Museum in Amsterdam, the Ben Dronkers cannabis empire decided to open another branch. The Hemp Museum Gallery opened in Barcelona, Spain in 2012 and was essentially a subsidiary of the original museum in Amsterdam.

It’s located in a historic Renaissance palace in Mornau. The likes of Virgin founder and CEO, Richard Branson attended the opening, and considering his interest in legal cannabis, it’s hardly surprising. Spain and Barcelona in general have a lax policy towards recreational cannabis, so it makes for the perfect location.

The Ben Dronkers Cannabis Empire in 2023

The Ben Dronkers cannabis empire in 2023 is still very impressive and healthy. Ben has managed to create a business empire from hemp and cannabis when others were too scared to take that chance. Fortune favors the brave so to speak. And considering that Ben is supposedly worth close to $20 million, it was a very wise yet brave decision.

As Dronkers moves into his 70s, he is now considered the granddaddy of the Amsterdam and European ganja industry. For sure, over the next few years, we will need some younger people to take it to the next level. But one thing is for sure… Ben Dronkers will always be considered cannabis royalty, and rightly so.

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