Jamaica Marijuana Medications Builds A Positive Image


Marijuana and its health benefits are still grossly misunderstood by many. The average individual knows Ganja, Marijuana or Weed by name and reputation as a dangerous and illegal drug. Many persons do not know that there is a wide variety of Cannabis or the name for marijuana.

Where there is ignorance, a lot of dangerous myths and legends also flourish. Thankfully, today’s technology and the media allow for more a greater increase in sharing information. Sadly, we cannot point to a matching massive decrease in ignorance. And it’s increasingly difficult to separate truth from fiction. Oh well… That’s another story for another time.

For more than 10 years, I’ve been aware of the ongoing research into the medicinal properties of cannabis by scientists at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus in Jamaica. Professor of Pharmacology at UWI, Professor Manley West, and ophthalmologist, Dr Albert Lockhart conducted years of research into the  medicinal properties of marijuana, based on reports and evidence of the impact of its use among Jamaicans who regularly used marijuana.

Following the earliest successful development of the eye drop Canavert used in the treatment of Glaucoma, an improved eye drop named Canasol is now on the market. This is the first eye drop to treat Glaucoma to be developed in the Caribbean.  They have also extracted chemicals from the ganja plant to produce Asmasol, an inhalant to prevent and control Asthma attacks.  

The great thing about all these products is that they have no reported side effects, like the negative impact of imported steroid based drugs that have long cornered the market. This is now widely available across the Caribbean. This is a huge success coming out of our little island. So we are not just a producer of lightening fast super-athletes. We are also flexing our muscle in the world of science and medicine.

Jamaica’s Rastafarians and Bob Marley Rastafari, and Reggae’s globally recognized icon developed a name across the world and earned the reputation of being a ‘Ganja Capital’ of the world. I recall my first visit to Zimbabwe in the early 1990’s where I encountered puzzled looks from the Africans who met me and heard I was from Jamaica. They were dismayed to see that I had no locks and did not smoke ganja. These were the symbols by which they identified Jamaica and Jamaicans.

Granted in that context, smooking weed and sporting dreadlocks would have elevated my status. However, our country also earned a bad reputation for growing and smuggling ganja. And a new stereotype of Jamaicans emerged. This cutting edge research and the ongoing development of amazing products from marijuana is a positive strike for a much villified plant.

Dr. West and Lockhart has turned marijuana’s bad reputation into something much more favourable. However, they only proved through academic research what ganja users, especially Rastas were claiming for years. This shows that good can come out of perceived negatives when we seek to move beyond ignorance to understanding. The research and its results challenges ignorance about cannabis, and can help Jamaicans to develop greater appreciation for wisdom in employing responsible practices in using plants, fruits,herbs and spices in the ways our foreparents taught us. 

This medical  breakthrough affirms the  folk wisdom of Jamaicans, often dismissed as dangerous or baseless superstitions, which is oftentimes the basis of many a grand scientific discovery and invention.

So wha you say, legalize di herb? Peter Tosh says yes, and highlights the medicinal benefits of the plant long before this medical breakthrough. Listen to him in the video below.