When 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.
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.
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
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