Wed | Dec 12, 2018

Ganja for healing nation - Wheatley

Published:Tuesday | June 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Dr Andrew Wheatley

The time has come for Jamaica to tap into the vast economic potential of the indigenous ganja strains for which it is famous, according to Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Dr Andrew Wheatley.

"The world is opening itself to cannabis use and Jamaica is positioning itself to be among the first to create, discover and enter new frontiers. We are doing this not only to ensure the sustainable development of the plant, its products and uses, but for the growth and development of our nation," Wheatley told Monday's launch of a memorandum of agreement between the Jamaican Medical Cannabis Corporation and the National Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology.

"We cannot stand by and play the fool, because as you squint, the opportunity gone. Cannabis research development, I believe, will strengthen Jamaica's contribution to local and international health industries and ... will leave no doubt in the minds of the world that this country continues to be a game-changer and that we mean business," he added.

Focus on medicinal ganja only

Disclosing that the medicinal cannabis unit in the Ministry of Health had registered more than 60 cannabis products manu-factured locally and overseas, Wheatley, a scientist by training, made it clear that the focus would be on medicinal ganja only.

"I think what we need to emphasise is not necessarily recreational use of marijuana. We are not too much into that; we have to look at the health and medicinal benefits of it. If our forefathers could appreciate the medicinal properties of marijuana, how is then that with all the technology available to us we cannot isolate, characterise, develop, innovate new medicinal products for the preservation of life?

"I think the time is now for us to heal the nation by developing the medical marijuana industry. Today's agreement is indeed another advancement in cementing the solid framework for Jamaica utilising science and technology to energise, innovate and empower and changing the game," Wheatley told the gathering at The Courtleigh Hotel and Suites in New Kingston.

christopher.serju@gleaner jm.com