UTech advancing ganja research with 'revolutionary' cannabis testing machine

Monday, June 22, 2015

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THE University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) has further advanced research efforts to examine the scientific and medicinal properties and potential of the cannabis (marijuana) plant with the acquisition of a cannabis testing machine known as QuantaCann2.

The analytical machine donated by Steep Hill Labs, Inc, USA -- a California-based medical cannabis laboratory with which the UTech signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year -- is the only such analytical machine in Jamaica.

The QuantaCann2 machine uses revolutionary cannabis-testing technology to analyse cannabis, providing data about cannabinoid potency levels, moisture content, and other components of the plant within seconds. The system is designed for use at medicinal cannabis access points, and is used in the USA as a point of sale support.

Steep Hill has trained lecturers in the College of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Science and Sport at UTech to operate the machine. Initially, dried flowers and stalks are being tested. Subsequently, UTech will be able to test concentrates. Ganja growers, manufacturers, and students at UTech and other tertiary institutions who are engaged in basic ganja research can use the QuantaCann2 for quick and easy investigation of plant characteristics.

"Testing for pharmaceutical purposes will require the use of other additional equipment that we also have here at UTech in the Natural Products Laboratory," said Dr Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, dean of College of Health Sciences.

She noted further that the QuantaCann2 provides the opportunity for a first important step for UTech into the formalised cannabis economy.

"If you can test your sample, you have a good idea of the potency that you have. Then you can decide how best to formulate what you have for medicinal purposes," she said.

The Memorandum of Understanding between UTech and Steep Hill Labs Inc paves the way for the exploration of mutual opportunities for research and development of medicinal by-products using cannabis. It facilitates the sharing of information between both institutions on laboratory testing, multidisciplinary research, entrepreneurship and innovation regarding culture, science and technology in cannabis.

The collaboration will also facilitate student electives and continuing education programmes, joint publications and student internships. Both institutions will collaborate to analyse the current ecosystem for the Jamaican cannabis market, including, but not limited to the areas of law, regulation, testing, taxation, overall economics, supply chain (from seed to sale), cannabis in the food sciences and tourism, as well as its social impact.

So far the partnership has yielded a road map for the Jamaica Cannabis Ecosystem and the formation of a Steep Hill UTech Ecosystem (SHUTE). Additionally, this collaboration has led to the sharing of technology and training for UTech staff and over 300 Jamaican pharmacists. More training events and expanded services are planned.

The Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell on May 14, 2015 presented UTech with a licence authorising it to cultivate marijuana for scientific research.

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