St. Vincent and the Grenadines has for the past five years advanced the development of a Modern Medicinal Wellness Industry. This includes exploring the potential of indigenous plants, psychedelics, patient access and wellness tourism, under a strict license regime in accordance with international law, purely for medicinal purposes and scientific research.
Plants such as moringa, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger, soursop, local wild mushrooms (jumbie umbrella) and cocoa are now fertile areas for research. The emerging modern plant- based medicinal research industry in the Caribbean is the future, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines is leading the way. The recently passed Plant Breeders Rights Act has opened the door for scientists from around the world to come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to conduct research, knowing that their work will be legally protected.
Over the past fourteen months, two Vincentian scientists, Professor Leonard O’Garro and Dr Jean Saville Cummings, have explored the technical and legal requirements for the establishment of a platform for scientific research, production, and patient access to therapeutic psychedelics in the expanding Vincentian Modern Medicinal Wellness Industry.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Industry, through the Bureau of Standards, in 2020 entered into an MOU with international experts working through Mera Life Sciences, Ajori Health and Wellness, and SVG Biomed to pioneer research into several compounds.
The psychedelics industry is being dubbed as an area that is giving new hope for scientific discoveries in the area of mental health treatment. Mental health is grabbing more attention worldwide as high-profile international celebrities, trauma victims, and military veterans speak openly about their bouts with depression, and with this attention comes an increasingly urgent demand for cures for depression, addiction, and related disorders.
Scientists are exploring, with success, the potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy, when combined with counseling, to bring relief to patients suffering from PTSD. In a recent New York Times article Andrew Jacobs wrote “Psychedelic Drugs are on the cusp of entering mainstream psychiatry, with profound implications for a field that in recent decades has seen few pharmacological advancements for the treatment of mental health and addiction.” St. Vincent and the Grenadines is ready to be out front in unfolding the pathway for psychedelics discoveries that can lead to breakthroughs in treating mental health and addition.
Leonard O’Garro Ph.D. is a trained biologist and holds a professorship (Personal Chair), awarded in 1999 by The University of the West Indies (UWI). He is widely recognized and regarded for his professional work. His publication record is voluminous and many of his seminal scholarly publications appear in academic journals of ranking 1 to 10 in over 1000 journals in his field of expertise. He has received several international awards, including UNESCO Biotechnology Fellowships and Leverhulme Fellowship.
In 2005 to 2009, he was a United Nations Biosafety Coordinator, managing the United Nations Environmental Programme global project for the Development of National Biosafety Frameworks for modern biotechnology. In 2009, he was recognized as 1 of a total of 39 Caribbean Icons of Science over a span of over 150 years by the National Institute for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology based in Trinidad & Tobago, and the Caribbean Academy of Science. In 2012, he was selected by the Eminent Persons Panel as the Caribbean Laureate for Excellence in Science and Technology.
In 2018, in celebration of the University of the West Indies, 70th anniversary, he was honoured as 1 of 70 of the university’s most outstanding graduates. He has been a member of several high-level international panels on biotechnology and biosafety policy and research for agencies, including the United Nations Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity and United Nations Environment Programme. He is frequently an advisor to several Caribbean Governments on areas of agri-business, including project development, financing, and implementation.
Professor O’Garro is fully immersed in global development work and is the driving force behind several large-scale investment projects in the areas of agriculture and agro-biotechnology in the Caribbean. He is the founding Director of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Centre for Food Security and Entrepreneurship. He has advised Psyched Therapeutics Ltd.
Dr. Jean-Saville Cummings is a Vincentian national who holds a Doctorate in Molecular Medicine from the University of Maryland School of Medicine with a dissertation in the study of T-cell immunity in HIV disease. He has additional postdoctoral training at the Pasteur Institute in Paris France, and the Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University in the UK. Much like his graduate research, his postdoctoral work focused on the role of molecular triggers in generating systemic immune functions that promote human health and wellness, specifically in the context of infectious diseases. His professional experience has seen him author several articles and present at numerous conferences on infectious diseases, HIV, and vaccines.
Currently serving as Chief in the technical department of SVG’s Medicinal Cannabis Authority (MCA), Dr. Cummings leads the development of the technical regulations and guidelines that govern cannabis research, production, and patient access as part of the MCA’s team driving the nascent industry through its initial phases. His stated focus is on driving the development of a biotechnology industry in St. Vincent and the Grenadines through the establishment of supportive regulatory mechanisms and the curation of competent and relevant private sector partners.