A Jamaican government official declared marijuana the country’s “birthright” and called for the expedited research and development of indigenous strains on Monday.
“It is like our birthright and we cannot allow persons from outside to come and take away our birthright,” Science, Energy and Technology Minister Andrew Wheatley said, according to a government press release. “We have to position ourselves, we have to take on the mantle [and] do what we have to do… as it relates to medicinal marijuana research.”
Wheatley was delivering a speech at the signing of a memorandum of understanding, which established an agreement between the Jamaican Medical Cannabis Corporation and the National Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology. The agreement stipulates that both entities must develop a program aimed at identifying, isolating and conserving “the local strains of cannabis for medicinal use.”
The press release noted that Jamaica has “some of the best or finest marijuana strains in the world,” including “Jamaican Lamb’s Breath (or Lamb’s Bread) and Marley’s Collie.”
“This project has the potential to catapult the island as the lead expert in medicinal cannabis use, which is a game changer. The agreement is another advancement in cementing the solid framework for Jamaica utilizing science and technology to energize, innovate and empower, which changes the game.”
Jamaica effectively decriminalized marijuana possession and established a limited medical cannabis program in 2015, but some farmers complained that the licensing fees were too steep, inhibiting the production of cannabis for research or therapeutic purposes, USA Today reported.