UTech, Timeless Herbal partner to develop medical ganja industry
With a long track record of research in the medicinal properties of indigenous herbal plants, the University of Technology (UTech) has now strengthened its ability to delve deeper into the research of medical cannabis.
Last week, the university signed a memorandum of agreement with Timeless Herbal Care - an international, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical company, for the development of research in medical marijuana.
Under the agreement, UTech will provide technical training of stakeholders through expertise in its School of Pharmacy, College of Health Sciences, as well as research and testing of cannabis strains for product formulation.
Dr Janet Campbell-Shelly, acting dean, College of Health Sciences, noted that the university has developed productive partnerships with several groups and partners since UTech received its first medical marijuana research licence on May 13, 2015 from then minister Phillip Paulwell and a renewed licence in May 2016 from current Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley. She expressed confidence that these partnerships will continue to advance opportunities for faculty and student research for the benefit of Jamaica and, by extension, the world.
Associate Professor Dr Ellen Campbell-Grizzle noted that the signing of the agreement marked a milestone of a long-standing relationship with the company and underscored that UTech's focus will continue to be on medicinal cannabis with a balanced approach in fostering public education, community involvement and substance-abuse prevention.
Adjunct professor in plant-based medicine Dr Lawrence Williams, who has been appointed by the university to advance research work in herbal plants, said that his current research work is focused on looking at the anti-inflammatory properties and compounds of cannabis and the anti-diabetic properties of guinea hen weed. His research is also investigating the compound devenzil trisulphide to determine whether compounds from cannabis can synergise the activities of that anti-cancer compound.
"They have now synthesised a derivative of devenzil trisulphide, which is now at stage two of technical trials in China, so that work is going very well," Dr Williams said.
President and Chief Executive Officer of Timeless Herbal Care, Courtney Betty, a Jamaican attorney-at-law based in Canada, explained that he retired from law three years ago to help the Government of Jamaica to create a legal framework for a medical marijuana industry.
Affirming his commitment to the development of the industry in Jamaica, Betty shared that "from the very beginning, we were not about selling ganja, we are not about smoking marijuana; from the very beginning, we were about bringing forth medical products to market," he said.
In this regard, Betty expressed confidence in the anticipated fruitful partnership with UTech in carrying out research towards product development in medicinal cannabis.
Timeless Herbal Care also announced the provision of two scholarships to UTech students enrolled in science-based courses of study. The scholarships, valued at $1 million, are named in memory of Myrtle Clementine Betty and Lilly Rose Clarke, mothers of the two principal partners of the company, and will commence in the next academic year 2017-2018.