KINGSTON – History was created at the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) Mona campus on Monday with the planting of the island’s first legal cannabis plant on the grounds of the institution.
Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell; Justice Minister, Senator Mark Golding; university officials and other stakeholders took part in the symbolic planting ceremony held at the Faculty of Medical Sciences’ Teaching and Research Complex.
The Government has accorded the UWI an Order to cultivate ganja for medical research, and to also set the pace for the development of a legal cannabis industry.
This is in keeping with the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2015, which became effective on April 15, and makes provision for development of a medical marijuana industry. A similar licence is to be granted to the University of Technology (UTech).
Minister Paulwell, in his remarks, urged the UWI researchers to look into value-added products from marijuana. He said the licence allows for contract farming, and called on the university to engage small farmers in the process.
The Minister said he wants to be kept updated on the progress of the research.
“I want to know when you start to do the experimentation, and what is found in the plant. We have to start this way, so that we can set the stage for full commercialisation,” he said.
Senator Golding, for his part, commended UWI for its interest in developing the medical marijuana industry. He noted that the institution has a “fine team of scientists across different scientific disciplines”, and had long ago started, in a limited way, research on ganja.
“Now that they can actually cultivate for research purposes, we can expect that the outcomes of the endeavours will be more profound, and with the economic opportunities that this will bring, we see this as part of what, I hope, will be a transformational industry for Jamaica,” Senator Golding said.
Calling on persons to observe established rules governing the industry, he argued that “if we play our cards right, if we are astute and strategic in how we approach the development of this industry, from the legal platform that has been created, very good things can happen for the people of Jamaica”.
Principal of the Mona campus, Professor Archibald McDonald, assured that the research team will ensure that “the best work is put into development of the medicinal aspect of the industry”. (PR)