Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton made it clear yesterday that Jamaica’s efforts to tap into the multibillion-dollar global medicinal marijuana industry would continue to be guided by public health concerns taking precedence over potentially lucrative economic returns.
“As the chief guardian of public health, I am paid to be cautious around new discoveries and inventions … . Financial risks may cost you money, but public health risks can cost you lives. When we chart courses and explore new frontiers as scientists, it is always important for us to be driven by the science and data,” Tufton said during the official launch of Medicanja’s range of therapeutic products.
After viewing a video presentation with Professor Henry Lowe, founder and executive chairman of Medicanja, narrating its goal of “innovation for wealth creation using our indigenous resources, particularly our medicinal plants”, the health minister put into perspective his ministry’s cautious approach.
“We see the benefits for medicinal marijuana, and I know that we are seen as probably the obstacle to advancing the industry, [but] we can’t be irresponsible in terms of our approach,” stated Tufton. “We have to take a public-health approach, which is more cautious than a commercial, financial approach. But in public health, we have seen enough to be convinced that there is significant potential in the medicinal marijuana space,” he added.
Tufton commended Lowe and his team for their commitment to the “advancement of an industry that even though it has been around for a long time, still has to be considered in its infant stage – the medicinal side”.