Lowe urges Gov't to 'remove the smoke from ganja'

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 08, 2013

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STUDIES on cannabinoids (chemicals from ganja) show that they help to improve moods, relieve anxiety, and address several other issues related to mid-life crisis that affects men and women, says local research scientist and entrepreneur, Dr Henry Lowe,

"Tremendous potential exists for research and development, to determine how medical ganja products can be developed and used to relieve a variety of health problems related to mid-life crisis," Dr Lowe told a public lecture Tuesday at Eden Gardens in St Andrew.

The lecture, titled 'New Wines into Old Skins; the Current and Future Uses of Medical Marijuana', was hosted by the Jamaica Mid-life Health Society (JHMS).

According to Lowe, the results of the studies have shown the need for the Government to move decisively "to remove the smoke from ganja".

"We have all been too focused on the smoking and legalisation issues. We need to be positive and establish a clear policy decision going forward, including an unambiguous strategy on how the medical marijuana system will actually be established and will work," he said.

Mid-life crisis is a very serious episode in the lives of hundreds of millions of people all over the world. It usually occurs between the age of 37 and into the 50s, and is an extremely stressful time for patients, spouses, family members, friends and others who interact with and care for the sufferer. Two of the major symptoms of a mid-life crisis are depression and anxiety, which often times can be chronic.

Dr Lowe said that medicinal ganja offers huge opportunities for Jamaica's economic revival and, if properly handled, could transform Jamaica into a world-wide hub for Research and Development and product innovation.

"If these actions are taken, Jamaica could join many countries such as Israel Canada, the UK and certain states in the USA, in benefiting from this US multibillion-dollar market which is new and rapidly emerging," he said.

In summary, Dr Lowe said that Jamaica could become the hub for research and development for medical ganja; implement medical ganja as a significant impact for driving health tourism here; use the opportunity to apply medicinal chemistry techniques to modify and synthesise related ganja medicinal products such as Sativex and Marinol, which are significant medicinal agents on the market; develop the necessary standards, dosage and quality control, which are desperately required, which could be done in collaboration with Jamaica's scientific and medicinal community; create and market nutraceuticals from ganja for local and export purposes; and, develop products from ganja for a variety of medications.

He pointed out that Jamaica has already set the stage with the first commercial development of a product from ganja -- Canasol.

Jamaica recently inked a landmark bilateral agreement with Switzerland to mutually protect geographical indications, including ganja, at the 51st General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organisation in Geneva. Geographical indications are goods originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

Other items listed included Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, Jamaica Rum, Jamaican Patties, Boston Jerk, Jamaican Ginger, and Trelawny Yellow Yam.

Other speakers at the lecture were Dr. Geoffrey Woo-Ming, US-based Guyanese Researcher; and Professor Errol Morrison, president of the University of Technology, who chaired the event.

The Jamaica Midlife Health Society consists of a group of medical and non-medical volunteers who seek to improve the health of Jamaicans at midlife and beyond.

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