Two farmers avoided criminal charges after convincing police that 240 large cannabis plants discovered on their adjoining eggplant farms in Kampong Cham province were being grown only to help keep their pigs plump, free of disease and to make their soups taste better.
After discovering the crops on the properties of neighbours Ly Dieng, 75, and Seng Boeun, 50, on Monday, police burned all 240 plants, Santhor district police chief Kheng Sreng said.
“[Police] pulled the plants from the ground and destroyed them at the scene,” he said.
Despite the size of the haul and the penalties that the cultivation of such drugs carry, the two farmers were not charged with any crime.
This was because they “did not understand the law” and were primarily mixing the cannabis with pig feed rather than selling it, deputy district governor Sim Kong told the Post.
“However, the authorities have educated them and asked them to thumbprint a document saying they will stop growing cannabis from this point on,” Kong said, adding that the pair would be arrested and sent to court if they broke their agreement.
Boeun, who grew about 200 of the plants in question, said he had never sold drugs and had grown cannabis only with the physical condition of his pigs in mind.
“I mix it with pig food to make them fat quickly and prevent diseases,” he said.
Similarly, Dieng said she had not cultivated the cannabis for any commercial gain.
Dieng admitted, however, that she and her family – rather than the farm’s pigs – used the cannabis, but only by occasionally adding it to a soup to give it some extra flavour.
“From now on, I vow not to grow it, and I will tell my children to stop growing it, because it is banned under the law,” she said. “The authorities told me that grass is an addictive thing that affects our health when we use it more and more.”
Police officials did not estimate the street value of the plants seized from the two properties, but said they suspect other farmers in the area have similar crops.