May 3 (UPI) -- Authorities in North Korea have instructed people to cultivate marijuana plants, claiming hemp oil can be used to make cooking ingredients.
But sources in the country say the state has ulterior motives -- preparing the product as fuel for military use, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday.
A source in North Hamgyong Province told RFA cannabis plants are being used partly to meet targets for cooking oil production.
"But basically the purpose of planting cannabis is to extract fuel for drones," the source said.
The source added it is not clear why state authorities are choosing to use hemp oil, possibly mixed with linseed oil, in order to provide fuel for unmanned aerial vehicles.
In April, Chinese state media reported several fueling stations in Pyongyang had been shut down and the price of gasoline had nearly doubled.
RFA's source did not say whether the decision was the result of tighter sanctions against the Kim Jong Un regime, because of its avowed refusal to denuclearize.
The order to replace soybean fields with marijuana plots came in March, a source in Yanggang Province said.
"The order was for each member of the North Korean Women's Alliance to plant 33 square meters of marijuana," the source said.
The state organization claimed the hemp oil made for better cooking oil than soybean substitutes, because "it has a lot of fat."
Farmers were told they could produce 22 pounds of cooking oil and 22 pounds of animal feed from 33 square meters of marijuana, according to the report.