By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Bahamas could attract "hundreds of millions" of dollars as a medical cannabis "hub", a Jamaican scientist said yesterday, urging the Government to "move quickly" or lose out.
Dr Henry Lowe, a renowned Jamaican nutraceutical scientist and founder of Medicanja, said he was "encouraged" by the level of enthusiasm locally on the subject. One of the featured speakers at a Medical Association of The Bahamas (MAB) symposium on medical marijuana, he said: "I was encouraged before coming here because I read there was a CARICOM mission here several weeks ago.
"I met and spoke to a number of persons involved, and they were all excited that The Bahamas could become the new Jamaica when you look at medical cannabis. When I got the invitation to come here I was more than excited because of the energy I felt.
"Next to Jamaica, this is where I see the energy. I don't know where your government stands but I hope that through information and education they will understand that this is the way to go. You're not talking about recreational cannabis; you're talking about medicines, and this is where the world is going."
Dr Lowe said that while cannabis is sometimes viewed negatively, anything that is not properly managed or abused can cause harm. "Marijuana is seen as the dangerous part of the cannabis plant, but what we need to first understand is that the cannabis or marijuana plant is a special type of plant," he explained.
"As far as I'm concerned it is the plant of plants. It is a drug plant, and anything that is a drug can be positive or negative to different people. Drugs affect different persons in different ways. It is a good plant, giving a variety of medical options and potential, which is what I'm about. We're looking at the medicinal side."
Dr Lowe said the Government should "move quickly" to facilitate the establishment of a medical cannabis industry in the Bahamas. "There's no reason to delay. Everything is there. I'm sure there are investors waiting to come to the Bahamas. I can't see any reason why the Bahamas shouldn't be moving ahead," he added.
"We're looking at major investments; hundreds of millions of dollars coming here. I don't want to preempt anything, but I know big potential is lined up to come here and, if the Government isn't prepared to come here, you could lose out. "
Dr Lowe added that recreational marijuana use should be separated from the discussion over medical marijuana. "We need to separate the recreational side from the medical side to give us the financial and economic push that we want, and take a position of leadership outside of tourism," he said.