Let’s just say a group of young cannabis connoisseurs is sitting around the house getting dabbed out their minds on some strange, new concentrate manufactured in the bathroom of a sweatshop. It is a fairly mean mix of THC, cartoon violence and paranoid schizophrenia, enough that it makes the kids a little uneasy about piling into a car and making a run for the nearest fast food drive-thru.
It is difficult for them to even say, “munchies,” much less focus enough brainpower to summon their doped-up dead legs back to the upright position. Driving is definitely going to be an issue. It becomes painfully clear that a full analysis of each and every person in the room is necessary to find out which of them is more capable of handling a motor vehicle in city traffic without arousing suspicion of law enforcement. But just how does this stoned group of after-hour socialites make this determination?
Although there is not presently any such voodoo on the market, researchers from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine say they have developed an app that will eventually serve in determining who the highest in the room —or who is high at all, for that matter. This Smartphone technology, which was unveiled last week at the Emerging Biology conference in California, is supposed to have the chops to provide individuals with insight into just how wrecked they might be before getting behind the wheel.
It’s not a breath test, nor does it come equipped with medieval weaponry to obtain a blood sample. The app, which is called “Am I Stoned,” simply forces users to complete a series of physical tasks. It might ask the user to tap the screen as fast as possible, or shake the phone when they witness the appearance of a blue dot. No bodily fluids are necessary.
The app’s creators explain it as a way to test cognitive function under the influence of weed.
“We have developed an initial prototype of a phone application that measures THC-induced cognitive and psychomotor impairments,” Elisa Pabon, a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, told Digital Trends. “The application is comprised of four tasks, which span a variety of cognitive and psychomotor skills. These were based on prior findings stating THC consumption led to impairments or changes in attention, reaction time, and various facets of memory.”
While the “Am I Stoned” app may sound like some bogus parlor trick, it has been run some through tried and true testing methods: Get a bunch of people high and let them play with it.
Researchers said they fed more than 20 humans cannabis capsules with varying levels of THC. Some of these unfortunate souls were even given a placebo — just to keep the study honest. Once the weed kicked in, the subjects were turned loose on iPhones and computers to see if they still had the ability to perform tasks under a less than sober mind.
“The effects of THC on performance may be subtle, so we need highly sensitive tasks to detect impairments,” Pabon explained.
Interestingly, researchers said that the respondents were pretty good about knowing just how stoned they really were. Most were under no illusion as to the decline of their performances. Researchers said that users were “generally aware” of their highness.
Still, the app’s creators admit that the results of the first run of tests prove that it is extremely difficult to gauge how marijuana affects a person’s perception. In the next phase of testing, they are hoping to hash this out, specifically with respect to vigilance and judgment.
It is important to point out that this app is not intended to give people a reason to test the limits of stoned driving. It is being devised to give people a self-assessment tool — that’s all. It was not designed for law enforcement either. Yet, perhaps one of the most interesting tidbits connected to the app is that the federal government is funding it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse is footing the bill of the Am I Stoned app from start to finish.
But similar apps are already available on the market. The “My Canary” app forces cannabis users to go through a series of physical tasks, gauging memory, balance, reaction and time perception. The hope back when the app was first released was that it might encourage cannabis users to act in a responsible manner when it comes to getting behind the wheel high.
But as with any app of this nature, it is first up to the user to decide whether to utilize the app before it can become an effective deterrent.
TELL US, would you find an app like this helpful?