What effect Will Legal Pot Smoking Have On Our Vision?
The problem with marijuana studies is that there are aren’t that many of them. Marijuana is still technically illegal, which makes conducting significant studies on its effects on users, at the very least, challenging.
A study completed in France a little over a year ago and reported the UK’s Independent newspaper suggests that regularly smoking marijuana could damage your eyesight by ‘triggering an abnormality in the retina’.
As you’d expect in a scientific study, two groups were observed: one was regular smokers; those in the other did not use the drug at all.
The smoking group demonstrated a longer processing time in their retina than non-users. That delay, about 10 milliseconds, was considered significant by the researchers who believe it may account for altered vision in regular pot smokers.
They said: ‘“Our findings may be important from a public health perspective since they could highlight the neurotoxic effects of cannabis use on the central nervous system as a result of how it affects retinal processing.”’
However, the two groups in the study totaled just 28 smokers and 24 non-smokers.
That’s 52 people in the study. Such a tiny sample is hardly statistically representative of the larger population. The American Medical Association agrees, calling the study small and preliminary. Even the French researchers themselves agree that more study is needed.
The issue? With such small control groups, it’s risky to claim conclusively that chronic smoking causes delays in visual processing. But if it does, what does that mean for Canadian drivers, teachers and parents, given the upcoming legalization of pot smoking here? Moreover, if regular smoking delays visual processing does, is the condition permanent? Or does the delay self-correct if the user stops smoking? There’s a logically redundant saying that’s become popular over the past decade: we don’t know what we don’t know. It’s also the sort of (shallow) deep thought that regular pot users enjoy contemplating.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
The rest of us would benefit from more study asap. On July 1, possessing pot will be legal. By late August, you’ll be able to purchase it in stores. How will regular smoking affect vision? As the other popular saying goes, we’ll see.