KINGSTON – Science and Technology Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley says Jamaica must stake its claim on all local strains for marijuana for research and development.
Jamaica is said to have some of the best or finest marijuana strains in the world, which include the Jamaican Lamb’s Breath (or Lamb’s Bread) and Marley’s Collie.
“It is like our birthright and we cannot allow persons from outside to come and take away our birthright.”
“We have to position ourselves, we have to take on the mantle (and) do what we have to do . . . as it relates to medicinal marijuana research,” he said.
Wheatley was addressing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Jamaican Medical Cannabis Corporation (JMCC) Limited and the National Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology (NFDST) on Monday.
The MOU formalises an agreement between the entities to undertake a project that will identify, isolate and conserve the local strains of cannabis for medicinal use, utilising advanced plant biotechnological, botanical and agricultural methods.
It also aims to strengthen Jamaica’s contribution to the local and international health industries through the provision of raw materials and value-added medicinal products.
Through the MOU, the Jamaica/Canada-based JMCC have committed to investment of US$2million in research and development over the next ten years.
The NFDST will receive, manage and disburse the funds to a research consortium that will execute the undertaking.
The consortium will consist of members of the National Commission on Science and Technology (NCST), which is the coordinating body, the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Caribbean Genetics and the Institute of Jamaica, among other institutions to be identified.
“This project has the potential to catapult the island as the lead expert in medicinal cannabis use, which is a game changer,” Wheatley declared.
“The agreement is another advancement in cementing the solid framework for Jamaica utilising science and technology to energise, innovate and empower, (which) changes the game,” he added.
Wheatley said the project will enable “Jamaica to be among the first to position itself to create, discover and enter new frontiers” to not only ensure development of a sustainable cannabis industry but also for the growth of the nation.
Meanwhile, Professor Errol Morrison, director general of the National Commission on Science and Technology, said the project titled – Identification, Isolation and Conservation of Local Strains of Cannabis for Medicinal Use − will use advanced plant biotechnological, botanical and agricultural methods to identify and preserve local strains of indigenous marijuana.
“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 added. (CMC)