Ben Dronkers is a Dutch cannabis grower, breeder, and businessman who in 1985 founded Sensi Seeds. Throughout the 1990s Sensi Seeds became a leading Dutch seed company.
In the 1980s, Ben Dronkers was one of the early adopters of the idea, espoused by Wernard Bruining, of producing domestic Dutch homegrown cannabis. At the time while cannabis was tolerated it wasn’t technically legal to grow more than five plants. As a result of the large-scale commercial cultivation he was undertaking, Ben often found himself being arrested.
After dozens of arrests and numerous short stays in jail, Ben began studying the Opium Act. He found that the law, while explicitly prohibiting cultivation on large scale to produce drug content, did not prohibit cultivation for seed production and sales. After seeking out legal advice and running his ideas by local authorities Ben Dronkers made the fateful shift to seed production and Sensi Seeds was born (1).
SENSI SEEDS TAKES ROOT
Since its inception, Sensi Seeds has been closely linked to The Seed Bank. In the early days, Sensi Seeds distributed the Seed Bank’s genetics to the domestic Dutch market. Like Nevil, Ben Dronkers traveled to Afghanistan in the late 1980s in search of Afghan genetics.
In 1991, Nevil was arrested in Australia and held for 11 months in jail facing extradition to the United States to face drug trafficking charges. It was at this time Ben Dronkers purchased the Cannabis Castle and the Seed Bank’s genetic stock from Nevil. Nevil was able to use the funds he raised from the sale of the Cannabis Castle and the Seed Banks genetics to smuggle himself out of Australia and back to Amsterdam.
For years after the Seed Bank ceased operating in 1991 people could still purchase Seed Bank varieties (at least in) from Sensi Seeds. After Sensi Seeds purchased Nevil’s plant stock in 1991 things quickly became disorganized (2). For a short time in the early 1990s, Nevil was brought in to help Sensi Seeds organize and clean up the plant stock and breeding practices.
In the early 1990s Sensi Seeds emerged as one of the leading Dutch seed companies from the first wave that began in the 1980s.
By 1992 the Seed Bank was consolidated into Sensi Seeds. The Super Sativa Seed Club quietly shutdown.
At this time Sensi Seeds became an incubator for the second wave of Dutch breeders and seed companies that would emerge in the 1990s.
Simon who would later go on to found Serious Seeds worked at Sensi Seeds. Tony who founded Sagramarth Seeds also worked at Sensi at the time. And Adam Dunn who started T.H.Seeds also worked at Sensi Seeds at the same time.
For a short time in the early 1990s Simon, Tony and Adam all worked under the tutelage of Ben Dronkers, one of the leading business minds in the Dutch seed industry, and Nevil Shoenmakers, one of the leading Dutch breeders. Together Adam, Tony and Simon created Cerebral Seeds before going on to form their own respective seed companies.
Throughout the 1990s, Sensi Seeds became the primary source for high-quality Dutch seeds. Sensi Seeds continued producing many of the varieties that had been bred and popularized by Nevil and the Seed Bank. In the early years, particularly when Nevil was still overseeing the breeding, Sensi Seeds contributed a number of memorable varieties.
In 1994 Sensi released Jack Herer. The original mother plant of the Jack Herer was a cross between [skunk no1 x Haze C] x [Northern Lights no5 x Haze C] that was bred by Nevil prior to his arrest in 1991. According to Nevil, the original mother plant was entered by Sensi Seeds and won the 1994 High Times Cannabis Cup. The complete lineage of the commercially available Jack Herer seeds is unknown because Sensi has never divulged what male was used to create the Jack Herer seeds sold to the public.
Over the years numerous cuts of Jack (10k Jack, Candy Jack, J1) have been kept and circulated among growers and breeders in the medical and underground cannabis scene.
Numerous breeders have also worked with the Jack in their own breeding projects. For example Loran ‘Longbottom Leaf’ has worked extensively with his ‘Jack’s Back’ line. Loran’s work with the Jack has been used by a number of other breeders such as Motarebel, 707 Seed Bank, TGA. Sannie’s Seeds has developed their own inbred line with the Jack with ‘Sannie’s Jack F8’. Brothers Grimm’s ‘Princess’ that founded the Cindy-99 line was supposedly found in a bag of Jack Herer.
These days the Jack has become associated with a terpinolene dominant terpene profile that is sometimes derisively referred to as ‘Jack Terps’. Despite becoming a bit of a cliche symbolizing the decline in Dutch genetics, the Jack has nevertheless had a long-lasting impact on cannabis genetics.
Another line that Sensi seeds released that has proven itself over the years is the Black Domina. Black Domina was bred by Nevil while he was working for Sensi in the early 1990s. Cuts of the Black Domina such as the ‘95 Black Domina and the Southern Humboldt Black Domina are still floating around to this day.
Shiva Skunk was the name Sensi Seeds gave to Northern Lights No.5 x Skunk No.1. Heath Robison selected a purple Shiva Skunk mother to initiate his Black Rose breeding project, crossing a male selected from Nebu’s Black Russian. Heath bred the line to an F7.
Heath released countless free seeds to growers and medical patients around the world. The Black Rose line has been continued by subsequent breeders who have kept this inbred line going. @farmerjoe420 recently released a small batch of Black Rose F11s as well as some outcrosses.
Afghani no1 was another Seed Bank variety that Sensi Seeds continued producing. The Sensi Seed’s Afghani no1 was used by Jj of @topdawgseeds who initiated his Chem D backcross breeding project by outcrossing the Chem D to sensi seeds Afghani no1.
This project has produced numerous well known varieties including tresdawg, stardawg and the many clone-only selections that have been kept by growers and breeders, as well as the ONYCD, and 3Chems.
In addition to his legacy with Sensi Seeds, Ben Dronkers also founded the Hash Marijuana and Hemp museum in Amsterdam. Ben also established a hemp textile company: Hempflax. Through his many ventures, Ben Dronkers has been an incredibly successful businessman who has helped to popularize and spread cannabis in all of its many forms around the globe.