Can the use of marijuana prevent malaria?

Monday April 15 2019


By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

As children, our parents gave us marijuana to prevent malaria. With rampant drug resistant malaria, shouldn’t this remedy be used for malaria prevention? Anne

Dear Anne,
Until recently, marijuana was stigmatised and banned in a number of countries due to its addictive properties. However, nowadays, because it has been found to have a number of medicinal properties, some countries have legalised it.
Unfortunately, it is still illegal in Uganda. Also, Ugandans are smoking marijuana instead of eating it hence not cashing in on the associated health benefits.

When one smokes marijuana, the body converts it into a mind-altering delta-9 THC but when eaten or drunk, it is converted into THC delta 11, a non-mind-altering form hence the medicinal value without addiction. It is not surprising that traditionally, the Far East countries have used Cannabis sativa (marijuana) as a herbal remedy for malaria for many years.

May be with malaria becoming resistant to many drugs, marijuana or its derivatives can become a saviour of the 21st century. That said, malaria prevention by and large requires avoiding mosquito bites (that mostly happen as we sleep) by using insecticide-treated mosquito nets, or eliminating the mosquitoes including using indoor residual spraying with insecticides.