On Being Stoned #1: Visual Effects

We are guided through life mainly by our vision due to the fact that much of our perceptual frame stems from the way our systems evolved for survival.   So as Dr. Tart points out, studying the effects of marijuana (cannabis) intoxication on our vision is important to a fuller understanding of how cannabis works with our perceptual systems.

When I think about how cannabis effects my vision, my best explanation is that cannabis “tunes it” The chart below from On Being Stoned Ch. 6 shows a variety of effects based on both their relative frequency of occurrence and the estimated level of lift.


As per my assertion above, the most common effects seem to be associated with enhancement of pattern recognition and increased vividness of visual imagery which fits my “visual tuning” notion. In general, with more vivid colors and sharper contours. Stoned vision is a little more intense.EdBright1

Due to an intrauterine event and subsequent eye operations, I lack stereo vision. While lifted, I tend to perceive both more depth and a wider focus in my visual fields. This effect has been most helpful in facilitating better hand-eye coordination when playing sports. More in properception post

Colors are indeed brighter and I often get internal visual imagery while reading.

Exercise #1

As an aside, try this. Get access to the Beatles Movie Yellow Submarine watch it twice, once straight, once lifted for a quick controlled test of how cannabis effects your vision. I’d suggest a moderate dose with either a 1/2 Joint or bowl (.25 gr of good quality cannabis @10% THC) Take notes to compare your experiences.


Toward the top left of the chart are auras and hallucinations which only occur with very strong cannabis and stronger psychedelic compounds like psilocybin from magic mushrooms. A little less lift may produce distortions like blurriness’ or make vision appear more sensual.

More on Patterns

As Dr. Tart explains, cannabis makes more sense out of ambiguous images. Are the patterns really there or does cannabis help us to imagine them? I am frankly not sure which case is true, but cannabis aided vision does indeed ‘see’ them. Normal consciousness does not have room for these distractions, but a song lyric suggests to me an alternate reality: “Everything is everything”- D. Hathaway World is a Ghetto.

In the now

Cannabis acts to keep us “in the moment” with senses tuned and, in a sense, heightened. While the downside is a rather poor memory of recent events, the upside seems a fuller appreciation of the world at large. Enjoy your lifted vision to better experience the world around you. Namaste