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Rare Jamaican cannabis strains are seeding a medical marijuana takeover in Canada

Toronto-based Jamaican Medical Cannabis Collective has signed contracts to provide Jamaican cannabis to three Canadian LPs and letters of intent to supply seven more

By Sarah Hanlon

Jamaicas optimal conditions for growing cannabis have created some of the best landrace strains in the world.

Lift & Co., “Canada’s medical marijuana marketplace,” held its biggest expo in Toronto from May 25 to 27, welcoming almost 20,000 people to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, which was surrounded by a slight haze during the three days devoted to cannabis education, product placement and trend-watching.

Billing itself as the last before legalization, the event was filled with companies poised to hit the new recreational pot market when it finally comes to Canada. Their booths took up two levels of the convention floor.

But it was the title sponsor, the Jamaican Medical Cannabis Collective (JMCC), that took centre stage.

With the support of the Jamaican government and the farmer’s collective they partner with on the island nation, JMCC has signed contracts to provide Jamaican cannabis to three Canadian LPs and letters of intent to supply seven more. All of these plans are pending Health Canada approval, of course, but there are a lot of people invested in making it happen, and for good reason.

Many patients and advocacy groups are concerned that Canada’s medical marijuana program may suffer supply issues when the recreational system opens up this summer. Legislation that allows importation of cannabis from other countries may end up being crucial to keeping supplies available for Canada’s 269,000-plus medical marijuana users.

But as JMCC CEO Diane Scott explains, it’s about more than just supply. It’s about access to a diversity of the finest product available for those who need it most – medical patients. Canada may be a cannabis innovator, establishing the first medical cannabis regime in the world in 2001, but Jamaica has a long history with the plant medicinally.

“When a [Jamaican] mom or grandma is helping a child with a cold, it’s cannabis oil they rub on their chests,” says Scott. “It has been passed down from generation to generation… the deep cultural relationship, the medicinal healing properties of the plant are all there.”

Jamaica has been a leader in the science and technology driving medical marijuana innovations since the 1970s. Dr. Henry Lowe, a Jamaican scientist and pioneer in medicinal cannabis drug formulation, recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a cannabis-based drug that’s about to go into human trials to treat acute myeloid leukemia. JMCC has been chosen by Lowe to supply those human trials through the JMCC Foundation, whose mission, Scott says, is to invest 10 per cent of annual profits to assist Jamaican scientific, educational, environmental and community support programs.

Jamaica is also leading the way in cannabis horticulture, establishing a nationwide initiative to preserve the indigenous cannabis strains of the island. Leafly, the world’s largest cannabis information resource, teaches us that the specific qualities of indigenous genetics can be traced back to certain areas of the world.

Cannabis is a hearty plant that can grow in many areas and will adapt over time to its environment. Landrace strains are ones that have become almost perfectly adapted to their growing environment. Jamaica’s optimal conditions for growing cannabis (50 percent humidity, equal parts day and night, fertile soil, mountain breezes) have created some of the best landrace strains in the world. But they have an added trait – they’re disappearing as newer strains are created through hybridization and cross-pollination.

JMCC has signed an agreement with Jamaica’s National Foundation for the Development of Science and Technology to fund a 10-year study to identify, isolate and conserve local landrace strains of cannabis for medicinal use. The project will be carried out in partnership with the National Commission on Science and Technology and, in addition to JMCC scientists, will include the Scientific Research Council, Caribbean Genetics, Natural History Museum of Jamaica, the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office and local cannabis farmers, associations and co-operatives.

The overall objective of the study is to apply advanced plant biotechnological, botanical and agricultural methods to identify, conserve and protect indigenous strains of cannabis in Jamaica “to ensure they are available for future learning and medical research and development before the opportunity is lost to over-hybridization,” says Scott.

She believes it is only a matter of time before other countries will follow Jamaica’s lead on the preservation of heritage strains.

“Cannabis is expanding globally, and you’ve got deep cultivation experts in Jamaica who are up-and-coming, and it can only be better for the industry.”

Scott notes that the Lift & Co. expo has been a great accelerator for the flow of information on an international level. “It’s not just about Canada anymore – [other countries] are saying, ‘Look what a great job Canada is doing,’ and they want a piece of that.”

Jamaicas optimal conditions for growing cannabis have created some of the best landrace strains in the world, but theyre disappearing as newer strains are created through hybridization and cross-pollination

7 Jamaican Cannabis Strains to Try in Honor of Bob Marley’s Birthday

Today we honor the birthday of Robert Nesta Marley. The Reggae legend, better known as Bob, would have turned 72 today. To celebrate the man who spent so much of his life singing the songs of universal peace, love and, of course, cannabis, we give you seven strains that were influenced by him and his home island of Jamaica.

1. Jamaican

The Jamaican strain refers to the indigenous varieties of cannabis (or landraces) that grow natively in this region of the world. Because of Jamaica’s latitude and climate, these varieties tend to be sativa in structure and effect.

2. Lamb’s Bread

Also called “Lamb’s Breath,” Lamb’s Bread is a bright green and sticky sativa strain. The effects have been known to give mass amounts of energy and positive introspection. Stress subsides quickly from the Lamb’s Bread buzz, which can help ease depression. The origins of this plant comes from Jamaica and it has been reported that even Bob Marley himself has encountered this wonderful slice of cannabis genealogy.

3. Jamaican Pearl

Jamaican Pearl is a sweetly potent outdoor sativa strain from Dutch breeder Sensi Seeds whose presence will bring a taste of the Caribbean to cannabis consumers. Jamaica is home to sativas of astounding quality and potency, selectively bred for countless generations. This strain, a genetic cross between Marley’s Collie and Early Pearl, provides a nice breezy cerebral sensation with tropical flavors.

4. King’s Bread

Said to be a sativa landrace from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, King’s Bread (or King’s Breath) delivers mellowing and euphoric cerebral effects. Finger-like bulbs reach out from the citrus-scented buds wrapped in crystal trichomes. Lamb’s Bread is counted among its progeny, although King’s Bread’s lineage is not well documented. Pain relief, appetite stimulation, and stress alleviation are just a few of the therapeutic benefits King’s Bread has to offer.

5. Jamaican Dream

Jamaican Dream is a 90% sativa bred by Eva Seeds using Jamaican genetics. A subtle and sweet flavor carries you through to an elevated mood and weightless euphoria. The effects are light enough to start your day with, making this strain ideal for early treatment of depression and fatigue. Jamaican Dream’s pointed, compact buds will finish their flowering cycle after 42 to 45 days indoors, or at the end of September in outdoor gardens.

6. Marley’s Collie

Marley’s Collie is an indica-dominant hybrid bred by Sensi Seeds that won the Dutch High Life Cup in 1999. These sticky, spiky buds offer a pungent sweet aroma with musky Afghani undertones, delivering effects that are strong in both physical and cerebral sensation. Indoor and outdoor grows can expect flowers between 60 and 65 days.

7. Jamaican Lion

Jamaican Lion is a high-CBD sativa strain with mildly psychoactive effects that stimulate creativity and focus without the loss of functionality. Its rich genetic background combines Mountain Lion — a Rockbud and Lionheart cross — with a Jamaican sativa known as Yarders. Shadrock, Jamaican Lion’s creator, first brought the strain to California in 2007, where it was distributed to patients by Harborside. Ushered in by a sweet herbal aroma, Jamaican Lion induces mild psychoactivity that carries through despite its low THC content. Sensory perception sharpens as bad moods dull in clear-headed sensations that can be described as simultaneously uplifting and calming. Few strains compare to Jamaican Lion as it eases pain, anxiety, and inflammation without intoxication or mental cloudiness. Its CBD content is highest around week 9 of flowering, but if you’re looking for more of a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC, Shadrock recommends harvesting at week 8 instead.

Have you tried any of these Jamaican strains? If so, leave your review on the strain’s detail page. If these don’t sound like your kind of cannabis, use the Leafly Explorer to find the strain with the flavors and effects you are looking. Happy Birthday Bob! Stir it up!

To celebrate Bob Marley, a man who spent his life singing songs of universal peace, love, and cannabis, here are 7 strains that were influenced by him and his home island of Jamaica. ]]>