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$260m ganja study - Jamaica eyeing investment in medicinal marijuana market

Published:Monday | June 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
From left: Dr Conrad Douglas, director, National Foundation for the Development of Science & Technology; Dr Andrew Wheatley, minister of sience, energy and technology; Diane Scott, CEO, JMCC; and Professor Errol Morrison at the presentation of cheque for US$2 million during the official signing ceremony between JMCC and National Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology held at Courtleigh Hotel and Suites in New Kingston yesterday.

The Jamaica Medical Cannabis Corporation (JMMC) is investing US$2 million (J$264,000,000) into research on local ganja strains in order to ascertain with scientific accuracy their medicinal potential, over the next 10 years.

Professor Errol Morrison, director general of the National Commission on Science and Technology, spoke to the enormity of the project titled ‘Identification, Isolation and Conservation of Local Strains of Cannabis for Medicinal Use’ during Monday’s signing ceremony.

“What you are about to witness is the dedication of our scientific community to eventually [map] the scientific identification of our strain. Not a look, touch, smell, feel (but) DNA science to underpin what it is that we have been making claims for centuries," he said.

" We shall be using a nutraceutical affirmation of the claims for health benefits down the road and we shall be archiving these claims for posterity, so that we can assure a hundred years from now that Strain X shall be Stain X and not hybridised out or cross-fertilised in any way,”  Morrison stated.

The research scientist lamented that having first identified the medicinal benefits of cannabis saliva strain in the 1970s which was found to lower pressure in the eye, Jamaica had lost ground since. However, this agreement between the JMCC, a Jamaican company based in Canada, and the locally-based National Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology will go a far way in reversing this neglect.

The research  will use advanced plant bi technical, botanical and agricultural methods to identify and preserve local strains of indigenous ganja, will be done by the a research consortium comprising scientists from the National Commission on Science and Technology, Caribbean Genetics, the Institute of Jamaica, among other agencies.

Diane Scott, chief executive officer of Jamaican Medical Cannabis Corporation made it clear that despite the fact that Canada recently legalised the recreational use of ganja, her company had no interest in that area.

“We are focused 100 per cent on medicinal cannabis. It is our stated goal: coming out Jamaica [will] be the best growers of medicinal cannabis in the world. We are bringing a premium product, a product that is not available anywhere else in the world, except on this island.

"That is why we are 100 per cent committed to protecting what you have what makes you unique, what cannot be found anywhere else; that is why we are doing the study,” said Scott.