The Jamaica Observer reports
Renowned scientist Dr Henry Lowe has pointed to the huge foreign exchange potential of nutraceuticals and medical cannabis and says that Jamaica needs to move quickly to capture its share of what is a rapidly growing global market.
“If we in Jamaica are to compete internationally, the regulations, such as the licensing process and standards for commercial ventures must be transparent, fair, open, and accessible to the public. However, if we are not careful and [are] taking too long, we will be overtaken and made redundant,” Lowe warned.
Known internationally for his cancer and nutraceutical research, Lowe said that there is now recognition that if Jamaica is to overcome its financial problems, partly through exports, the country needs to move away from the reliance on products such as sugar, banana and bauxite to new non-traditional products and services.
“This new direction must be driven by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, supported by science and technology,” he argued.
He pointed to National Nanotechnology Initiative data in 2015 showing that the estimated value of nutraceuticals export from Jamaica was US$12,671,942, while imports stood at US$32 million.
“If one examines this data, we have not even started to develop our export potential, as well as our import substitution,” he said.
“To improve Jamaican nutraceutical exports, it is important to understand foreign demands and their trends, especially consumer and awareness trends,” Lowe said, pointing out that the global market is expected to eclipse US$250 billion by 2018.
Jamaica, he said, should begin to farm medicinal plants in a major way to create jobs and export products.
“The future is to build up nutraceuticals and go to pharmaceuticals, as we are now doing in Bio-Tech R&D Institute based at the University of the West Indies, Mona, along with Educational and Scientific Corporation and Flavacure, based in the USA for ball moss and cannabis,” he said.
He said that, globally, the cannabis landscape is undergoing dynamic changes in research, legislation and commercial developments.
“We have been talking for too long about the development and implementation of policy and programmes for cannabis,” he lamented, adding that “we have a short window to move ahead quickly if we are to make up for lost ground”.
He pointed to an ArcView Group report highlighting the fact that medical and recreational marijuana sales jumped 74 per cent in 2014 to hit US$2.7 billion, compared with roughly US$1.5 billion in 2013, ranking cannabis as the fastest-growing industry in the United States.