American university offers ganja degree - Professor believes JA could benefit from similar course

October 26, 2017
Professor Errol Morrison

The world appears to be a step ahead of Jamaica in another aspect of medicinal marijuana after an announcement was made recently by the Northern Michigan University (NMU) to offer the world's first ganja undergraduate degree.

At least one Jamaican scientist believes that Jamaica could benefit from a similar course of action in light of the country's superiority where ganja is concerned.

THE STAR gathered that many students have since reportedly signed up at NMU for the cannabis degree, many switching from majors they were previously enrolled in.

The programme, Medicinal Plant Chemistry, is the first programme to offer a four-year undergraduate degree focusing on marijuana, according to Brandon Canfield, the associate professor of chemistry, who started the programme.


Our dominance


THE STAR understands that the required courses include subjects such as organic chemistry, plant physiology, botany, accounting, genetics, physical geography and financial management.

Professor Errol Morrison, chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Cannabis Licensing Authority, believes Jamaica is ready and our dominance on the subject matter should pilot our way.

When asked if Jamaican universities should make the step and offer the degree programme, he said: "The study of cannabinoids is easily carried out in biological/ botanical and biochemical programmes. They are a highly complex group of compounds and are of some 800 variations of the basic structure, most common of which are the tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol."


Illegal status


According to the professor, the medicinal properties are still speculative and testimonial, as no rigorous controlled ethical studies have been reported due to the illegal status and the plant source being categorised as schedule one in the Dangerous Drugs Act, which describes the weed as being highly addictive and has no proven medicinal value.

"This has been and can be challenged based on the number of anecdotal successful outcomes in the treatment of certain inflammatory conditions, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, pain, etc. With Jamaica's pre-eminence in the marijuana story, such studies - chemistry and ethnomedicinal properties - should indeed be undertaken as part of a course in nutraceuticals," Morrison told THE STAR.

THE STAR gathered that the sale of recreational marijuana is projected to jump to $11.2 billion by 2020.

Meanwhile, after much anticipation, the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) has issued two of the five licences granted for legal operation in the cannabis industry.

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