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UTech collaborates with Steep Hill Labs, USA to advance local cannabis research

University of Technology | 2014-11-14 00:00:00

The University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) on Friday, November 14, 2014 advanced national discussion and efforts to examine the scientific and medicinal application of legal marijuana, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Steep Hill Labs Inc., USA - a California-based medical cannabis laboratory.  Hon. Phillip Paulwell, MP, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining participated in the signing of the  MoU which was signed by Acting President, (UTech) Ambassador the Hon. Burchell Whiteman, OJ and Chief Scientist, Steep Hill Labs Inc., Dr. Donald Land at UTech’s Papine campus. 

The agreement 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 and will facilitate the joint 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 analyze 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, tourism and its social impact.

Ambassador Whiteman in his remarks said that UTech was pleased to be advancing what is now a very important area of national development and looks forward to the partnership with Steep Hill Labs. 

“This is largely about science and technology and development, all of which UTech is committed to advancing,” he said, adding that, “we expect that the appropriate uses and benefits to be derived from the processing of cannabis, will be properly codified and developed and be of value not only to Jamaica’s economy, but to the world and to science.”

Dr. Donald Land in his remarks said he was excited about the partnership with UTech to study medicinal cannabis and Jamaica’s impending regulatory framework for the decriminalization of marijuana.  He acknowledged that there is much to be studied and learned about the plant, affirming that “UTech is perfectly positioned to be at the forefront” of such scientific investigation.

Minister Paulwell, who has been a firm advocate of the use and application of science and technology in Jamaica’s economy, in congratulating UTech on the partnership said that “the industry for the development of medicinal marijuana/cannabis is an irreversible thrust that has been endorsed by the Cabinet.”   The Minister expressed hope that “UTech will become a Centre of Excellence out of the collaborative effort that will derive financial and other benefits for students and the wider society in what is going to become a very dynamic industry for Jamaica.”  He noted that the government is moving to ensure that the regulatory framework is in place for the medicinal ganja industry.  The government in September 2014 announced its intention to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act to lay the foundation for the establishment of regulatory regimes to govern the cultivation and use of ganja for medicinal and scientific purposes as well as non-medicinal hemp.

The execution of the collaborative arrangements will be led by UTech’s College of Health Sciences.  Dean of the College, Dr. Ellen Campbell-Grizzle explained that it represents a real partnership for UTech to provide a service to an emerging industry.  She said that among other things, “students will be able to look at the products of the cannabis plant, prepare formulations and have those formulations tested with the appropriate equipment.

Posted By :Michelle Beckford

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