10.27.2016
wellness

Study: Weed Shown to Improve Night Vision

But only in a very particular demographic.

Science has almost come up with a new reason for old people to embrace cannabis use. The stuff, apparently, will help you see in the dark. But only, so far, if you are a tadpole.

Old people worry about a diminishing capacity to see what’s directly in front of their car while driving at night. In many old people, this “night blindness” gives rise to rational fears that they will run over and kill some young skateboarder one evening while driving home from bingo, without ever seeing that young person clearly enough to identify their victim.

Naturally, the elder demographic rushed to a current rash of Internet click lines asserting: “Cannabis may enhance night vision.”

Hope was alive, until the old people found their glasses and clicked through.

The false promise of the “Enhance Night Vision” headline was derived from experiments in which researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute applied synthetic cannabinoids to the eyes of tadpoles of the African clawed toad Xenopus laevis.

From the Guardian:

Tadpoles have a natural tendency to avoid dark moving dots, and the researchers exploited this by putting some tadpoles into a Petri dish, showing them dark dots under various lighting conditions, while using specially designed video-tracking software to track the movements of the tadpoles and the dots, and to measure the tadpoles’ avoidance responses.
Under normal lighting conditions, they observed no differences between tadpoles treated with a synthetic cannabinoid and untreated ones. In the dark, however, tadpoles given the cannabinoid avoided significantly more dots than untreated ones.

These findings, researchers conclude, may have no relevance whatsoever to humans. Even if the tadpole experiments do turn out to be an early step in uncovering a cannabis-based treatment for diseases such as retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma, which lead to full-on night-and-day blindness, that treatment is so far in the future as to defy any estimated date of arrival.

Here’s a question for science: Is there not a more direct method to determine CBD's and/or THC's effects on human night vision? Is there some reason why the path of scientific inquiry can’t chart a less-deviating course to the human eye? What is the point of diverting your research trajectory all the way around through a tadpole?

All science needs to do is smoke out Gram and Gramps, put them behind the wheel of their Cadillac, and use a dash-mounted GoPro to chart their progress through the crepuscular suburb streets.

What's so difficult about that?

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