Phytomedicine Medical Cannabis Institute to be established in Jamaica

Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, (Oct 1).

A Phytomedicine and Medical Cannabis Institute is to be established in Jamaica. This forms part of the research partnership with Harvard International Phytomedicine and Medical Cannabis Institute.

Phytomedicine is a plant-based traditional medicinal practice that utilises various plant materials in preventive and therapeutic processes. The research partnership aims to explore Jamaica’s vast botanical resources and their natural medicinal properties for the development of new nutraceutical and pharmaceutical products.

The Economic Growth Council and the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries will be coordinating the project to ensure that there is economic gain for all stakeholders, particularly farmers and traditional herbalists who possess decades of knowledge in plant medicine.

Speaking at a press briefing Tuesday (Oct 1) in Kingston, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw said the global phytomedicine industry is expected to reach US$111 billion with an annual growth of 7.2 per cent.

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw (second left), shares a light moment with (from left) Scientist, Dr Henry Lowe; Director, Harvard Global Health Catalyst, Professor Wilfred Ngwa; and Vice President, Economic Growth Council, Dr Sherene Smith, during a press conference Tuesday (Oct 1).

He said with Jamaica’s rich plant diversity, traditional use of medicinal plants, and advances in scientific research and technological development, the country stands to benefit from and contribute to this new and emerging field.

“Jamaica has 52 per cent of the established medicinal plants of the world. More than 85 per cent of our population still uses some form of herbs or potion to treat common illnesses, from a common cold to cancer,” the Minister noted. He lamented that Jamaica has been slow to leverage the benefits of the local herbs to the advantage of its people, commercially and financially. “If you travel around this country, you see a lot of idle lands and you see a lot of idle hands, and we can’t hold on to sugar anymore. We now have to move aggressively into diversification, and one of those areas of diversification is the phytomedicine industry,” Mr. Shaw noted.