Thursday 25 April, 2019

Jamaican ganja growers get support from US leader in cannabis science

Steep Hill, the US leader in cannabis science, last weekend collaborated with the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech) at the Rastafari RootzFest to test the various strains and potency of ganja at the festival.

The festival, which was held in Negril, began on Friday December 15 and ended on Sunday, the 17th. The highlights included the Ganjamaica Cup in which entries from growers across Jamaica were judged by a panel of local and international experts.

"Our collaborative participation at Rastafari RootzFest is another step toward helping to empower Jamaican growers, using scientific and technological tools, to stake claim to the strains that are rightfully theirs, and to help identify strains that could lead to revolutionary new medicinal applications for patients in Jamaica and—in the future when exporting medical cannabis and derivative products are made legal—around the world," said Steep Hill's Chief Global Expansion Officer, Scott Cathcart.

Steep Hill Express provided equipment to accurately test bud potency, but also provided training to UTech to help promote best practices and share testing protocols. The collaboration brought together science and cannabis testing expertise to support Jamaica's Rastafarian community and growers as the country's cultivation sector transitions to a legal environment, said Steep Hill.

"Most people are familiar with the champagne wine making community's comprehensive regulations for regionally-produced wines, protecting their economic interests—including the stipulation that only sparkling wines produced in the champagne region can be labeled and sold as 'Champagne.' We envision this same type of 'brand protection' in Jamaica's unique cannabis varieties. Through science and technology, we can identify these strains to use as a reference point, so that Jamaica can re-claim the brands that are rightfully theirs, ultimately bolstering the Jamaican economy," said Steep Hill's Chief Scientific Officer, Dr Reggie Gaudino who also presented at the Rastafari RootzFest.

The alliance allows for collaboration to support the Jamaican government and market participants as the country develops and manages a culturally-appropriate, science-and-technology-based framework for the legalization, regulation, research, and taxation of medicinal cannabis.

Dr Ellen Campbell-Grizzle, Associate Professor, College of Health Sciences, UTech, added, "The technology transfer and training exchange between Steep Hill and UTech, JA has benefited us and the communities we serve. Testing is a vital component of building up a credible medical cannabis industry. We remain committed to the provision of safe and effective cannabis-based medicinal products for all peoples."

Founded by Ras Iyah V—the chair of the Westmoreland Ganja Farmers Association, a member of the Board of the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), and one of Jamaica's foremost ganja authorities—Rastafari RootzFest is a three-day event designed to educate attendees about the benefits of medical and sacramental cannabis, celebrating developments in the newly-legal industry through music and community.

Ras Iyah V said of the collaboration, "We're very thankful to our partners Steep Hill and UTech, JA for their commitment and efforts in bringing science and technology to our event, and to Jamaica. With science by our side, we can learn more about what we have, and we can explore ways of helping our people and farmers benefit from the mighty herb."


The collaboration builds on a three-year strategic alliance between Steep Hill and UTech for dedicated study and development exploring the culture, science, and technology of cannabis in Jamaica. 

The annual festival provides a platform for the further development of Jamaica's cannabis industry and establishes a path for Jamaican farmers to access opportunities under the law. The festival included reggae concerts on the first two nights and concluded with the Rastafari Rootzfest, Ganjamaica Cup awards ceremony on the final day.

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