UTech, Jamaica Hosts 3rd Jamaican Medical Cannabis Integration Symposium (JAMECANN 2018)

Dr. Cliff Riley, Executive Director, Scientific Research Council (SRC) delivers the keynote address at the Opening Ceremony of the 3rd Jamaican Medical Cannabis Integration Symposium (JAMECANN 2018) on July 5, 2018 at the Shared Facilities Building, UTech, Jamaica Papine Campus.

The University of Technology, Jamaica through its College of Health Sciences (COHS) hosted the 3rd Jamaican Medical Cannabis Integration Symposium (JAMECANN 2018) from July 5 to 6, 2018 at the Papine Campus under the theme, “Merging Science, Spirit and Business.”

The two-day symposium showcased advances that have been made in the Jamaican and international medical cannabis sector.  It also provided opportunities for building research networks.  The symposium comprised eight scientific sessions with themes including medical Cannabis product innovation, standardization through Cannabis testing and the business of Cannabis.

Speakers at the opening ceremony included The Honourable Audley Shaw, CD, MP, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Agriculture and Fisheries, The Hon. Alando Terrelonge, Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport, Dr. Janet Campbell-Shelly, Dean, COHS, Mr. Lincoln Allen, CEO, Cannabis Licensing Authority, Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, Associate Professor, COHS and Symposium Convener and keynote speaker Dr. Cliff Riley, Executive Director, Scientific Research Council (SRC).

‘Committed to the Development of the Cannabis Industry’ – Minister Shaw

The Hon. Audley Shaw in his address commended UTech, Jamaica for organising the Cannabis Integration symposium and pointed to the importance of partnership with academia in developing Jamaica’s Cannabis industry. “UTech has a history of being a trailblazer for our country, with your commitment to moulding of young, brilliant minds into scientific leaders to create a better Jamaica today and a brighter future for tomorrow,” he said, adding that “as Minister responsible for the development and advancement of the medical cannabis industry in Jamaica, it is great to have a partner such as the University of Technology, Jamaica bringing the much needed science to help shape our life.”

Minister Shaw affirmed the Government’s commitment to providing leadership in mobilising the requisite resources and personnel for the development and success of the medical cannabis industry.  Noting that several other countries are “rushing” to take advantage of this “multibillion-dollar global industry, ” the Minister underscored that  Jamaica “cannot afford to miss this boat.” He encouraged all Jamaicans to be “bold and move with a deep sense of urgency” towards tapping into the derivable economic benefits.  The Minister however, cautioned that the Government is mindful of its responsibility to abide by local and international laws in treating with cannabis.

CEO, Cannabis Licensing Authority (CAL), Mr Lincoln Allen noted that the Authority is committed to creating an enabling environment for all who wish to be involved in the medicinal cannabis industry, but while protecting and preserving local interests and compliance with local and international regulations and obligations.

Dr. Janet Campbell-Shelly in her welcome noted that various entities throughout the society have sought to engage with Jamaicans at various levels in an effort to outline the appropriate use of Cannabis.  The Dean emphasized that while “the evidence is very convincing and the science s supporting the fact that there are several therapeutic benefits to the use of the substance, we are also cognizant of the fact that there can be a negative impact of  abuse of the drug,” such as psychotropic and negative social behaviour.  Dr. Campbell-Shelly said that the College of Health Sciences continues to advance activities that promote “the health of the Jamaican people” in support of the medicinal use of cannabis and its business potential.

Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, Symposium Convenor

The University’s position was reiterated by symposium Convenor, Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, Associate Professor, CHOS. She told the large gathering of academics, members of Government and the private sector and students, that the purpose of the JAMECANN symposium was to contribute to the “democratization of the Cannabis space in Jamaica through the sharing of knowledge about cultivation, testing, product development, legislation, clinical trials, sacramental use and business.”

Dr. Campbell-Grizzle noted that “as an in institution of higher learning, we are compelled to drive the national effort to make this happen,” and emphasized that the University is keen on knowledge sharing that has been derived about Cannabis and other herbs, often from the wisdom of Jamaican elders.  “We welcome positive local and international partnerships that help us to build capacity, assist our students and engage in productive enterprises while respecting our values,” she said.

Dr. Riley Urges Standardisation of Marijuana

In his keynote address, SRC Executive Director, Dr. Cliff Riley pointed to lack of adequate research on marijuana.  He urged a change in  attitude and a collective drive towards standards in the medical marijuana industry.  “We can’t keep telling the world that we have the best ganja,” he lamented.  “We must understand it; we must standardise it,” he stressed, pointing to the imperative for scientific standards in advancing medical marijuana research to treat conditions such as autism, glaucoma and asthma.

Noting that the multi-billion dollar marijuana industry is generating revenue in the region of US$4.6 billion with projected earnings of US$12.8 billion, the SRC Director lamented that Jamaican cultivators are getting only a small fraction of the industry’s earnings.  He called for scientists to “incorporate farmers in your research teams.”

Dr. Riley reiterated the call for partnerships in the industry, noting that “the trust between our farming community and our knowledge holders is hanging on to a very thin thread.  Let us not destroy that,” he cautioned, adding the advice that, “as we engage in this research and development, let us see how we can achieve that integration with our knowledge holders, with our farmers and  with our traditional processors.”

Sponsors of JAMECANN 2018 were Medical Cannabis Angel Group, CannaCure Corporation, Canamo Jamaica Ltd., De La Enzie Essentials, Perishables Jamaica Limited and Green Roads Corporation.

Dr. Janet Campbell-Shelly, Dean, College of Health Sciences presents Ministers the Hon. Audley Shaw (left) and the Hon. Alando Terrelonge each with a gift of a sample of a concrete block made from hemp by UTech, Jamaica engineering students.


Michelle Beckford (Mrs.)
Corporate Communications Manager
University of Technology, Jamaica
Telephone: 970-5299
Email: mbeckford@utech.edu.jm