Jamaica is poised to rake in billions as its local medical cannabis industry heats up–at least according to Professor Wayne McLaughlin of the University of the West Indies.
The country holds a massive variation of 98 percent on its cannabis cultivars, and experts think that could be the key to staggering industry profits.
“We are looking at the different genotypes, and the diversity is really high–about 98 percent diverse and genetically different strains of marijuana in Jamaica. So whether a grower produces, for example, Indica in St Ann or ‘skunk’, which is historically is grown in Westmoreland, the farmers will know that they are producing remarkably different strains, as much as 98 percent, which means a wide variety of medicinal use can be gained from them,” McLaughlin told editors of The Gleaner in January.
The professor explained that much of his research is to identify indigenous cannabis cultivars with the use of genetic markers.
McLaughlin and his team of researchers started doing detailed work back in 2010, coming out of a forensic science programme at the university. His team has set up two labs to identify different chemical profiles–CARITOX and CARIGEN–which are considered to be invaluable for industry research.
“The monetary value because of this wide-ranging strain variation is going to be massive and a distinct advantage for the Jamaican medicinal cannabis industry,” McLaughlin said during and update on UWI research.
McLaughlin explains that developing and identifying local genetic markers is key to the development of quality and consistency–important qualities in the country’s monetization of the plant. There is also an element of patriotism to his work, he told The Gleaner.
“Part of our study is to make sure that the Jamaican strain remains fully Jamaican–although that’s going to be very difficult, having had for many years a time when we had hybridised and [brought] in other strains to breed with our own.”