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By NAN Staff WriterNews Americas, KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thurs. Dec. 5, 2013: Marijuana may still be illegal in Caribbean nations but that has not stopped one man from launching the region’s first medical ganja company.

With debates brewing in Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Puerto Rico about legalizing pot for medical purposes, much like 20 U.S. states, Professor Henry Lowe on Wednesday launched Jamaica’s first medical ganja company.
MediCanja was launched in Kingston, Jamaica at the Eden Garden Wellness Resort and Spa and featured government Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton, as the official guest speaker.

Lowe says he’s hoping to capitalize on the multibillion-dollar industry’s commercialization, adding it would be unfortunate if Jamaica lost out to a booming multi-billion-dollar industry in Europe, Canada and the United States.

Jamaica is known as the pot capital of the Caribbean with ganja tours now part of the tourism landscape on the island that gave the world Rastafarianism and reggae music.

Lowe is the executive chairman of Biotech Research and Development Institute and pointed out that Jamaica was the first country in the world to develop a commercial product from ganja, Canasol used to treat glaucoma.

He says MediCanja will undertake pioneering research and product development using the medicinal compounds called the CBDs – the non-psychoactive compounds in ganja.

MediCanja also intends to:
1. Carry out research to develop strains of Ganja with more CBDs and less THCs (THCs are the compounds in Ganja that gives it its psychoactive effect or “high.”
2. Develop unique and high quality nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals from Ganja to manage certain illnesses as well as for cosmetic purposes.
3. Develop a local hemp industry, which will cultivate hemp to be used as a rich source of the bioactive CBDs; as well as for other industrial products using its fibres for clothing, bags etc.
4. Synthesize Ganja related compounds for medicinal purposes.
5. Subsequently develop pharmaceuticals from Ganja for various illnesses.
6. Promote collaboration among scientists, doctors and policymakers in advancing the local medical marijuana industry.
7. Contribute to the development of Jamaica by producing local products from Ganja for the local as well as the international markets.

MediCanja’s launch comes on the heels of a poll commissioned by Professor Lowe’s Bio-Tech Research and Development Institute and Pelican Publishers found that 55 per cent of Jamaicans interviewed felt that the laws criminalizing marijuana should be relaxed.

Professor Lowe noted that Medical ganja is known to treat a variety of illnesses including insomnia, anxiety, vomiting and nausea, pain and certain types of cancer and given Jamaica’s history with ganja, the country could be the hub for medical ganja in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It “could have a multiplier effect by catalyzing other industries such as health and wellness tourism, nutraceutical and cosmeceutical industries, agriculture and even the pharmaceutical industry and ultimately transform Jamaica’s fledgling economy,” he added.

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