Gone But Not Forgotten
- Aug 18, 2002
- Reaction score
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1255438,00.htmlWhen spliff gets in your eyes...
Giles Tremlett in Madrid
Wednesday July 7, 2004
We knew it gave people the munchies and made them giggle. Now researchers claim to have found a new property in cannabis - it helps us see in the dark.
Scientists made their discovery after becoming intrigued by Moroccan fishermen who not only failed to lose their sense of direction after smoking generous amounts of local kif, a mixture of cannabis and tobacco, but seemed to navigate better on dark nights.
"They attribute their ability to see to the consumption of kif that they spend entire hours smoking before getting into their barques," one of the research team, drawn from the US, Spain and Morocco, reported.
Jamaican fishermen have reportedly shown a similar reaction, suggesting that there may be something medically useful in cannabis apart from the pain-deadening properties already spotted by doctors treating cancer patients.
Equipped with a machine for measuring night vision, the researchers headed for the Rif valley, the centre of Morocco's flourishing cannabis trade. "High-grade sifted cannabis was mixed with tobacco in a 2:1 ratio and smoked as kif by subjects employing a traditional sebsi pipe," the team write in the latest Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Three "kif-experienced" Moroccan volunteers were then invited to make "numerous inhalations".
The volunteers demonstrated "consistent improvements" in tests, leading the researchers to suggest that further studies should be conducted.
The researchers admit that the results have turned the ancient wisdom of Persian and Arab scientists, who suggested that cannabis made vision fuzzier, on its head.
But their results backed up claims by the Observer columnist Sue Arnold, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa and is officially registered blind. She noticed several years ago that drawing on strong Jamaican skunk suddenly and temporarily enabled her to see things clearly.
But Ms Arnold has since warned of side-effects that could impede night-time navigation.
"Only trouble was," she said, "I couldn't stand up."
E. B. Russo, A. Merzouki, J. Molero Mesa, K. A. Frey and P. J. Bach (2004) Cannabis improves night vision: a case study of dark adaptometry and scotopic sensitivity in kif smokers of the Rif mountains of northern Morocco. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 93 (1). 99-104.
Previous reports have documented an improvement in night vision among Jamaican fishermen after ingestion of a crude tincture of herbal cannabis, while two members of this group noted that Moroccan fishermen and mountain dwellers observe an analogous improvement after smoking kif, sifted Cannabis sativa mixed with tobacco (Nicotiana rustica). Field-testing of night vision has become possible with a portable device, the LKC Technologies Scotopic Sensitivity Tester-1 (SST-1). This study examines the results of double-blinded graduated THC administration 0–20 mg (as Marinol®) versus placebo in one subject on measures of dark adaptometry and scotopic sensitivity. Analogous field studies were performed in Morocco with the SST-1 in three subjects before and after smoking kif. In both test situations, improvements in night vision measures were noted after THC or cannabis. It is believed that this effect is dose-dependent and cannabinoid-mediated at the retinal level. Further testing may assess possible clinical application of these results in retinitis pigmentosa or other conditions.
Author Keywords: Cannabis; Medical marijuana; Ethnobotany; Night vision; Ophthalmology; Visual testing