Shame:Mounting pressure to legalise bhang over its medicinal value in Kenya

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BhangScientists at the University of Nairobi are working on what could be a major breakthrough in treating the brain — using bhang to ferry medicine into its much-protected cells.

They figure that the ingredient responsible for the highs experienced by marijuana smokers could just be the right vehicle to carry medicine into the brain, which is so fortified with fatty cells that most drugs won’t penetrate its walls.

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This has been a huge problem for doctors and researchers.

Known as THC, the chemical is highly soluble in fats and readily penetrates the brain, giving users a euphoric feeling as soon as they inhale bhang. The process being tried involves bonding antibiotics into THC. The brain easily disposes of the chemical if it enters in small amounts.

Once this is injected into the body, the THC rushes into the brain and releases the antibiotic. The brain then disposes of it. If  it works, millions of patients with brain problems could benefit from drugs that have for long been ineffective because they could not access the brain.

Marijuana use is illegal in Kenya, and even accessing it was no walk in the park for scientists. Thebhang being used was obtained from a police station in Nakuru, where it had been kept after it was seized from traffickers.

“If it works, it will help in treating a lot of brain problems,” said Prof Jacob Midiwo, who is supervising the research. “It will be a very big breakthrough in brain science.”

The research comes at a time when debate on legalisation and decriminalisation of marijuana is raging. Scientists have found more than a dozen positive attributes for the much-maligned herb, and some countries are considering legalising it.-The Standard

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