[www.inewsguyana.com] – Jamaica has launched its first medical marijuana company with prominent researcher Professor Henry Lowe urging the authorities to take full advantage of the drug’s medicinal components for commercial purposes.
Lowe, who is the executive chairman of Biotech research and Development Institute, said it would be unfortunate if Jamaica lost out to a booming multibillion-dollar industry in Europe, Canada and the United States.
“Canada’s hemp industry values US$2 billion yearly,” he said at the launch of MediCanja on Tuesday night.
Lowe said a recent survey had shown that 87 per cent of Jamaicans want medical marijuana (ganja) to be developed, adding “Jamaicans don’t only want it to be developed, they want the government to get behind it and make it happen”.
He told the ceremony that Jamaica was the first country in the world to develop a commercial product from ganja – Canasol – used to treat glaucoma.
“Why should we sit back and allow other people to take over?” Lowe asked, saying he would conduct clinical research to extract the components of hemp that can cure a variety of illnesses.
Lowe said he also intends to develop a strain of the plant which is less potent in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of the marijuana plant that provides the ‘high’ for smokers and the reason marijuana is banned.
“We have developed a method to isolate the non-psychoactive compounds,” said Lowe, who has gained worldwide attention for his cancer research.
The female ganja plant is grown for smoking purposes. The male plant is called hemp and has a variety of industrial and medicinal uses.
The plant can be used to produce fabric, rope, canvas, wax, and paper, while the seeds contain the highest form of protein in the plant kingdom and can be used to make oils, butter and fuel, among other products.
He warned that smoking the plant has health and psychological risks and that his company had no plans to break any local or international law.
“In the end, our Caribbean would consume the medical/health, cosmetic and other products derived from marijuana, legally grown and produced, in the USA,” he said.
Earlier this year, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders discussed the decriminalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes after St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had called for a “reasoned” debate on the issue.
CARICOM chairman and Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar said a decision had been taken to have the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat conduct further research on the medical and legal implications of decriminalising marijuana.
She said further, the National Drug Council in Trinidad and Tobago had developed a concept paper on the issue and that would be sent to the Guyana-based Secretariat.
“The decision is no decision on that issue (decriminalising marijuana) except to say much further discussions, much more consultations in each other country will take place before a report is presented in February next year,” when the regional leaders meet for their inter-sessional summit, Persad Bissessar said.
Gonsalves, who said that he believes the region should discuss the matter in a “sensible focussed, non-hysterical manner, earlier this week said his government had no plan to bring legislation for medical marijuana to Parliament.
“This is a matter which we will work through the framework of CARICOM. And hopefully, we will have a big discussion on this,” he told Parliament in response to a question from Opposition legislator Linton Lewis.