The agreement was signed on November 14, by Acting UTech President, Ambassador Burchell Whiteman and Chief Scientist, Steep Hill Labs Incorporated, Dr. Donald Land, at a special ceremony at the institution’s Papine campus, St. Andrew.
Minister of Science & Technology, Phillip Paulwell, in endorsing the agreement, said the partnership represents a tremendous opportunity for Jamaica in what promises to be a vibrant and profitable field.
“The industry and the thrust towards the development of medical marijuana in Jamaica are irreversible, and so… we have to ensure that this happens within a framework of research and science and technology,” Mr. Paulwell stated.
He said Jamaica must utilize its tremendous global brand to establish itself as a place for high quality medicinal products derived from cannabis.
“I am hoping that out of this effort, UTech will become a centre of excellence and derive financial benefits that could see employment of students and the wider society in what is going to become a dynamic industry for Jamaica,” the Minister added.
The MoU, which is valid for an initial three years, will facilitate the joint sharing of information between UTech and the Steep Hill facility on laboratory testing of medical ganja in a number of areas.
These include multi-disciplinary research; entrepreneurship and innovation regarding culture, science and technology in cannabis; as well as electives, and continuing education, joint publications, and student internships.
Both institutions will collaborate to analyse the current ecosystem for the Jamaican marijuana 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, consumers, tourism and social impact.
Ambassador Whiteman said UTech is particularly concerned about understanding the scientific processes that are necessary for the effective use of medical marijuana.
“Through this collaboration, we expect that the appropriate uses and benefits to be derived from the production and processing of cannabis will become properly codified and supported and be of value not only to Jamaica and the Jamaican economy, but also to the world and to science,” he stated.
For his part, Dr. Land said the partnership represents a tremendous opportunity to further study the benefits and uses of medicinal cannabis and to add to the worldwide literature.
“UTech and the country of Jamaica are perfectly positioned to be at the forefront of that and we are privileged to be able to help you spring off into that endeavour,” he said.
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