Jamaica launches its first medical 'ganja' company

Wed Dec 4, 2013 5:44pm EST
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By Horace Helps

KINGSTON (Reuters) - It's been a long time coming, but the birthplace of reggae and legendary pot-lover Bob Marley has announced the launch of its first medical marijuana company.

Jamaican Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton was among government officials on hand at a ceremony in the capital, Kingston, on Tuesday night where the opening of the company known as MediCanja was formally announced.

The island nation, world famous among connoisseurs for the distinctive and almost mystical allure of its pot known locally as ganja, has long been known as the leading Caribbean supplier of illegal marijuana to the United States.

But MediCanja marks the first known effort to find a legitimate source of revenue from Jamaica's bountiful, but still illicit, crop of marijuana.

The company will focus initially on research and product development involving cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound in marijuana that has medical effects, but not psychoactive effects, company officials said.

The officials noted that some marijuana strains have been genetically modified to contain high levels of CBD and low levels of the plant's psychoactive ingredient, THC.

Henry Lowe, a local scientist and entrepreneur who is the executive chairman of MediCanja, said its initial research would concentrate heavily on the development of such strains of ganja.

"Medical ganja could have a multiplier effect by catalyzing other industries such as health and wellness tourism," Lowe said at the launch ceremony.   Continued...

A man lights a marijuana cigarette in West Kingston, Jamaica, in a file photo. REUTERS/Andrew Winning