Dr West was a scientist. He taught pharmaco-logy at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Significantly, with Dr Albert Lockhart, he developed Canasol, a drug for the treatment of the eye disease, glaucoma, from cannabis, or ganja. Born in Portland, West attended the Titchfield High School. He graduated from the University of London, England, in 1967 with a Doctor of Philosophy in pharmacology.
His career at the UWI began as assistant lecturer in pharmacology in 1964, from which position he was promoted to lecturer and internal examiner in pharmacology in 1968. Thereafter, in 1975, West served as acting head of the Department of Pharmacology and in that same year was appointed head of the Department of Pharmacology and chief internal examiner. He was appointed professor of pharmacology in 1981.
West has received national and international acclaim for his development of the drug Canasol, as a treatment for glaucoma, for which achievement he was awarded the Order of Merit from the Government. In 1985, Professor West along with Dr. Albert Lockhart received national and international acclaim, for their development of Canasol. Both were awarded the Order of Merit from the Jamaican Government in 1987. Professor West was also awarded the Gold Musgrave medal from the Institute of Jamaica for his pioneering work with the drug. In 2001, Professor West, and Dr. Lockhart introduced a cannabis-derived medication called Cantimol to treat the potentially debilitating condition of glaucoma. It was the world's first combination of an alpha agonist and a bet blocker (two types of drugs) in one bottle for the treatment of this disease. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) also conferred on him the Bio-Diversity Gold medal for the conversion of a plant compound to medicine, and he was awarded the Legacy of Honor, for the Caribbean for his contribution to mankind.