A large marijuana plantation was burned by Indonesian authorities after being discovered by a drone.
The 11-acre property had an estimated 21,000 cannabis plants and was discovered in the Teupin Reuseup village in North Aceh district. The National Narcotic Agency (BNN) and the National Research and Innovation Agency conducted an aerial surveillance operation of the area between Aug. 3 and Aug. 13.
“This is a form of the government’s firmness against illegal drugs and their circulation,” said Wayan Sugiri, the BNN’s deputy for eradication, per Fox News. Over 150 police officers, BNN agents, and customs officials were sent to uproot the plantation and reportedly harvest 20 tons of marijuana which were burned on Aug. 16.
Indonesia has burned a total of 106 acres and 190,000 marijuana plants over the course of five separate burns in 2023.
Marijuana consumption is prohibited in Indonesia. With a population of 270 million people, the country is considered the most populous Muslim-majority nation on Earth, reports AP News. The BNN estimates 4.8 million use illicit drugs and that marijuana is the most popular.
The government imposes strict punishments for people who use marijuana, including a four-year prison sentence. Possession of the substance is punishable by up to 12 years in prison.
In June, a 24-year-old man was sentenced to death in Indonesia for carrying 1.3 tons of marijuana. Judge Yusafrihardi Girsang of the Medan District Court said his ruling was in alignment with national laws regarding narcotics.
The defendant, who is appealing the verdict, said he agreed to carry the drugs in exchange for 2 million Rupiah, or $130 USD, to pay for his mother’s medical treatment, reports The Star.
In May, “the Medan Military Court in North Sumatra sentenced two Army soldiers to life imprisonment for trafficking 40,000 ecstasy pills and 75 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine,” noted the outlet.
Indonesia rescinded marijuana’s classification as a medical plant in 2020. The substance was banned by the government in 2009. Today, marijuana is classified as a type-1 narcotic alongside opium, methamphetamine, or cocaine.
Some organizations, including the Advocacy Coalition for Narcotics Usage for Medication, have called on the federal government to reconsider its classification of marijuana and allow medical use.
Despite the government’s efforts to restrict drug use, “Indonesia is a major hub for drug trafficking in Southeast Asia,” states Arab News.
“Most of the more than 150 people on Indonesia’s death row were convicted of drug crimes. About one-third of them are foreigners. Its last executions were in 2016, when an Indonesian and three foreigners were shot by a firing squad,” added the outlet.