RESEARCH for a computer game company has found a small amount of cannabis
could help players' performance, making them drive faster and safer.

The experiment was carried out for Acclaim Entertainment to see how
cannabis would affect people playing its new game, Burnout. A group of 20
experienced games enthusiasts and drivers between 21 and 40 took part in
the test to study reaction times, speed, concentration levels and road safety.

Ten of them then smoked about 0.15 milligrams of cannabis, or about half a
"joint", while the other ten had had no stimulant for at least 72 hours
prior to the test. They were then given a demonstration of Burnout and
asked to take the controls.

The researchers say 80 per cent of those who had smoked cannabis
demonstrated superior reaction times to those who had not. About 60 per
cent finished a lap faster, while 70 per cent experienced a lower number of
collisions, and more than half reached a higher level in the game.

When playing in competition with each other, the drivers who had smoked
cannabis won eight out of the ten matches. The company claims drivers under
the influence of cannabis appeared to have more confidence in their ability
and be much calmer.

Simon Smith-Wright, Burnout's communications director, admitted the
findings do not translate into real life, but insisted small amounts of the
drug helped driving.

He said: "The results of our tests clearly indicate that a small or
moderate amount of cannabis is actually quite beneficial to someone's
driving performance.

"Further amounts then tend to start to impinge on performance, although,
interestingly, reaction times appear to best withstand the increased amount
of the drug in the system.

"Obviously Burnout is a video game, and while extremely realistic, we
cannot claim these findings translate to real-life driving, nor are we
encouraging anyone to try out the theory."

However, the claims have been condemned by anti-drug campaigners in
Scotland, who said the research trivialised serious drug issues.

Alistair Ramsay, director of Scotland Against Drugs, said: "These kinds of
claims are extremely dangerous. There is a world of difference between a
computer game and driving for real. This so-called research has no support
from proper clinical trials.

"Driving with cannabis in your bloodstream is a criminal offence and
drivers face tough penalties. Trivialising such serious issues clearly
sends out the wrong message to society, and frankly I am appalled the games
makers would engage in this kind of stupid research."

Newshawk: The Legalise Cannabis Alliance <>
Pubdate: Wed, 31 Oct 2001
Source: Scotsman (UK)
Copyright: The Scotsman Publications Ltd 2001
Author: Kevin Lowry