ENLIGHTENED EXPANSION

Jamaica 2019 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

Only funding issues are holding the cannabis giants of tomorrow from taking their place in the international sun.

Dr. Henry Lowe
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Henry Lowe is a scientist who specializes in medicinal chemistry, conducting research in the fields of ethno-medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, and biochemistry. For over 50 years, he has contributed to the fields of science and technology, energy, environment, wellness and health sciences, in addition to successful business pursuits. An accomplished author with over 150 publications in a variety of periodicals, journals and the popular press, his most recent accomplishment is an FDA-approved orphan drug for the treatment of leukemia, the first time any Jamaican or Caribbean has gained such recognition.

How has 2018 been for Medicanja?

2018 was interesting because many new deals, contracts, products, and possibilities have entered the market. We have also formed international partnerships, such as with Harvard University, not to mention some of our international drug developments. The year has been excellent for us, and we are looking forward to solidifying a number of new partnerships and developments across the industry. We are now leaders in terms of moving from herb-based products to isolates and pharmaceuticals, and have now clearly established ourselves as leaders in secondary and tertiary cannabis products.

How have you progressed in your intention to list the company?

We conducted a survey and found that 80% of Jamaicans believed in medical cannabis and were supportive of Medicanja. We felt it was reasonable to publically list the company so that all Jamaicans could participate in and support the business. We made the decision to give Jamaican investors 20% of the shares in the company. Having made this decision, we tried to move forward. However, various banking issues came up and thwarted these efforts. Banking issues have been a major source of concern for the entire industry across the world, even in countries like the US. These issues keep us from going to market because banks are such an integral part of this process. Nevertheless, we are in the process of finding a way around this obstacle and are confident that these issues will be behind us in 2019. At the same time, we are exploring relationships with other companies focused on the growing side of the business, whereas, historically, we have been involved in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical end of the business.

How and where do you expect to export your products in the region?

We feel that Jamaica must be our first area of focus, so we have our products in a number of pharmacies here; however, even getting a manufacturer to engage in creating commercial quantities is another challenge. So for now our energies are focused on solving these domestic issues. Nevertheless, we are also looking at a new product line: cosmeceuticals. This includes a number of new products, including perfumes derived from cannabis, which we expect to be a global product. On the international arena, we are planning to push into the Caribbean, Latin America, and Canada, as well as license our projects in the US and Europe. However, all of these plans require investment, which is why we are interested in forming partnerships with the right investors or raising capital from the market place. We are actively pursuing both of these strategies, and once we acquire the resources we are looking for, we are going to have a major push toward commercialization.

How important is research and development at Medicanja, and what new products and technologies are you working on?

In 2017, we expanded our line from six pain management products to 12, and we hope to have 19 by the end of 2018. A product for epilepsy just received approval from the FDA and from GW Pharmaceuticals in the UK. We have an even more effective product here, but we have been constrained by banking issues and funding problems. There are products for epilepsy and MS, and the latter was the first major cannabis-based product. GW Pharmaceuticals has placed this product in 64 markets across the world, and we can place our product in similar markets and compete effectively at a much lower price and comparable quality. We were one of the first countries to discover that cannabis could be effective in managing glaucoma, and we have created a product designed to help with this disease. In fact, we created the first cannabis-based product designed to alleviate this disease right here.