- Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, is spearheading work to develop a legal framework that will facilitate the creation of medical ganja and industrial hemp industries in Jamaica.
- This is being coordinated by a Cabinet inter-ministerial sub-committee, established for the purpose, which the Minister chairs.
- He pointed out that it is becoming “widely accepted” globally that ganja has therapeutic use.
Justice Minister, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, is spearheading work to develop a legal framework that will facilitate the creation of medical ganja and industrial hemp industries in Jamaica.
This is being coordinated by a Cabinet inter-ministerial sub-committee, established for the purpose, which the Minister chairs.
The Minister made the disclosure during Thursday’s (June 12) media briefing at Jamaica House, where he announced proposed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act to facilitate ganja decriminalization that will allow its usage for medical/medicinal and religious purposes, and personal use.
Senator Golding said the move to create the framework for medical ganja and industrial hemp industries arises from the administration’s acknowledgement of the need to position Jamaica as an “important player” in the increasing global recognition of developments relative to these sectors.
He pointed out that it is becoming “widely accepted” globally that ganja has therapeutic use.
“Medical and scientific research on ganja has shown it to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting, stimulating appetite, promoting weight gain, and the treatment of glaucoma. Ganja has been used to treat spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, relief of migraine headaches, depression, seizures, insomnia, and chronic pain. Persons who suffer from the effects of cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases, have found significant relief of various symptoms from the use of marijuana, though in many cases they are forced to do so illegally,” the Minister noted.
Senator Golding also highlighted significant research undertaken by Jamaican scientists, Professor Manley West and Dr. Albert Lockhart, to develop the drug ‘Canasol’ from ganja, for the treatment of glaucoma.
He also cited work done by another Jamaican scientist, Dr. Henry Lowe, who has been involved in medical ganja research, and recently launched a company to pursue further engagements in this area, and related commercial applications.
Additionally, Senator Golding said the University of the West Indies (UWI) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with United States-based entity, Strains of Hope, which has developed therapeutic hemp applications.
He further advised that the UWI also signed a MoU with another entity, Timeless Herbal Care, in partnership with the Hebrew University of Israel, and “strategic” Canadian stakeholders.
The Minister emphasized that the regulatory arrangements to support these industries must be guided by Jamaica’s international obligations, in particular, stipulated control regimes in relevant conventions to which the country is party, “as well as our own social realities.”
“The objective is to secure the economic and medical benefits of ganja while minimizing the risk of abuse. A robust regulatory framework can provide the platform for the development of a formalized and tax-paying medical ganja and industrial hemp industries, from which Jamaica stands to derive significant economic benefits,” Senator Golding said.
The Minister said it is envisaged that the arrangements will provide for the use of a portion of the licensing revenues from these industries to fund a public education programme to discourage ganja use by minors and other vulnerable persons; to enhance funding support for programmes dealing with ganja abuse/addiction; and to fund research into the medicinal and other scientific and industrial uses of ganja.