Dr Henry Lowe and his wife Janet unveil the name of his new company, MEDICANJA, that will conduct clinical research toextract the components of hemp that can cure a variety of illnesses. Occasion was the launch of the company at EdenGardens in Kingston last night. (PHOTO KARL MCLARTY)
Hemp industry offers great wealth, says Henry Lowe

DR Henry Lowe last night highlighted the rich financial benefits of the hemp industry as he officially opened his company that will extract marijuana's medicinal components for commercial purposes.

“Canada's hemp industry values US$2 billion yearly,” Lowe said as he called on the Jamaican Government to seriously consider the medical marijuana industry as a means economic slump “A recent survey by Don Anderson said 87 per cent of Jamaicans want medical ganja to be developed.

Jamaicans don't only want it to be developed, they want the Government to get behind it and make it happen,” he said. Lowe pointed out that Jamaica was the first country in the world to develop a commercial product from ganja, and said it would be woeful if we lost out on a multi-billion-dollar industry which is booming in Europe, Canada and the United States.

In the late 1980s, Dr Albert Lockhart used marijuana to develop Canasol, a product used to treat glaucoma, after more than a decade of research. “Why should we sit back and allow other people to take over?” Lowe asked as he unveiled his company, named MEDICANJA, at Eden Gardens in Kingston.

MEDICANJA, Lowe said, will conduct clinical research to extract the components of hemp that can cure a variety of illnesses. He also proposes to develop a strain of the plant which is less potent in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component of ganja which provides the 'high' for smokers and the reason that ganja is banned.

“We have developed a method to isolate the non-psychoactive compounds,” said Lowe, who has gained worldwide attention for his cancer research. The female ganja plant is grown for smoking purposes.

The male plant is called hemp and has a variety of industrial and medicinal uses. The plant can be used to produce fabric, rope, canvas, wax, and paper, while the seeds contain the highest form of protein in the plant kingdom and can be used to make oils, butter and fuel, among other products.

One acre of fully grown hemp can produce the same amount of paper that is garnered from 10 acres of trees, and can produce the same fabric as three acres of cotton. “It is softer and stronger than cotton, and it does not mildew,” Lowe said.

He warned that smoking the plant has health and psychological risks and said his company had no plans to break any local or international law. However, he lamented the fact that hemp products were banned in Jamaica.

“I didn't understand how ignorance could be so persuasive. The Government should do something about that,” he said. Lowe also suggested that developing a hemp industry could reduce the need for persons to cultivate ganja illegally and could provide employment for many persons.

BY KARYL WALKER Editor — Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

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