Despite it being termed as an illegal sun stance, a surprising number of people seem to be regular users of marijuana (bhang), encouraged by mass media and its legalization in other countries.
From observation, I dare say that bhang smoking has become so common that it is not unusual to find people smoking it openly especially at night and during the day, for the daring ones. Fathers smoking bhang while taking an evening stroll with their kids is not a rare sight in our communities.
Across the globe the legalization of Marijuana has opened the door to lots of debates and discussions. By itself, bhang does not cure disease but it can provide relief to people in severe pain such as those with advanced cancer. However, whether or not bhang is legalized, it has side effects that everybody should know about.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects of bhang smoking vary dramatically among different people. Common effects include heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors), laughter, altered perception of time, and increased appetite. Some people experience anxiety, fear, distrust, or panic. People who have taken large doses of bhang may experience hallucinations, delusions, and a loss of their own sense of personal identity.
Effects on career growth
Bhang usage can affect one’s career. Some jobs, such as those in the aviation industry, involve testing for bhang. Detectable amounts of bhang may remain in the body for days or even weeks after use. People have been suspended from jobs because elements of bhang were detected in their blood several months after taking it. Marijuana has also been associated with an amotivational syndrome, defined as a diminished or absent drive to engage in typically rewarding activities such as working.
Pollution of bhang with unknown substances
Bhang is illegal in Kenya. This means that cultivation, transport and distribution of bhang is done by criminal syndicates out to maximize profits using any possible means. There is no way for the consumer to know where the bhang is coming from, where it was stored and what else may have been added to it. Some of the chemicals mixed with bhang may be harmful to one’s health.
Marijuana use disorder becomes addiction when the person cannot stop using it even though it interferes with many aspects of his or her life. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop an addiction than adults. People who use marijuana frequently often report irritability, mood and sleep difficulties, decreased appetite, cravings, restlessness, and various forms of physical discomfort that peak within the first week after quitting and last up to 2 weeks.
Exposure to second hand smoke
People often ask whether a person who has inhaled secondhand smoke from a bhang smoker could be affected as well. Researchers measured the amount of bhang substances in the blood of people who do not smoke but had spent 3 hours in a well-ventilated space with people casually smoking bhang. The substances were present in the blood of the nonsmoking participants, but the amount was well below the level needed to fail a drug test. Another study that varied the levels of ventilation and the potency of the bhang found that some nonsmoking participants exposed for an hour to high-potency bhang in an unventilated room showed positive urine samples in the hours directly following exposure. A follow-up study showed that nonsmoking people in a confined space with people smoking high-potency bhang reported mild effects of the drug.
Having read all this, it is time to pose a question to thyself, Is bhang good for you? With all the facts put in mind about bhang – not forgetting that being found with it could land you in prison – the final decision on whether or not to use bhang really is up to you. It is upon every individual to decide on whether it is worth the risk or not.
Godfrey Kimega is a communication professional with lots of experience in
media, civil society, government, and manufacturing. Currently residing in
Voi town, Godfrey has a keen interest in matters affecting communities generally
and weighs in various opinions on how best we could change the narrative positively.