Agus plunges a wooden paddle into his coffee and marijuana-filled wok, taking care to roast just the right mix of ingredients — and stay one step ahead of police in Indonesia’s Aceh province.
His contraband brew is a hit with locals and buyers in other parts of the Southeast Asian archipelago, who pay 1.0 million rupiah ($75) for a kilo of it.
But this is risky business in Aceh, where even drinking alcohol or kissing in public can earn you a painful whipping under its strict Islamic law.
Agus, not his real name, is part of a clandestine economy in the region at the tip of Sumatra which, despite its no-nonsense reputation, is Indonesia‘s top weed-producer with fields covering an area nearly seven times the size of Singapore, according to official estimates.
Pot was once so common in Aceh that locals grew it in their backyards and marijuana was sold to the public.
But it was outlawed in the Seventies and Muslim majority Indonesia has since adopted some of the world’s strictest drug laws, including the death penalty for traffickers.
The nation has declared itself in the midst of a drug “emergency” because of soaring methamphetamine use.
But the situation is Aceh is muddled.
Police hunt weed farmers, imprison users and torch mountains of confiscated marijuana — more than 100 tons last year alone.
Yet just last week a lawmaker from the province proposed in Parliament that the drug should be legalized, so the country could export it for pharmaceutical purposes.
He was quickly reprimanded by his Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), while the national narcotics agency slammed the proposal claiming it would discourage Aceh ganja farmers from adopting its suggestions to switch to vegetables and other crops.