Ask a Stoner: Why do my eyes get red?

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Dear Stoner: Every time I smoke herb, my eyes get redder than Rudolph's nose. What's up with that? Is there any way to prevent it?

Ro Jo

Dear Ro Jo: Ah, the classic telltale sign that someone has just finished a doobie or a nice bong load: red-eye. When I was a teenager, a friend's older brother told us that it was caused by something in the smoke lingering around in the air irritating your eyes, which made sense at the time. I mean, everyone smokes with his or her eyes open, right? But if that were the case, half the city of Denver would be walking around with red eyes just from the lingering particulates of cannabis floating around in the atmosphere.


William Breathes

What really causes red-eye is pressure. Specifically, marijuana causes the inner-eye pressure to decrease after use. When the pressure drops in your eye, the small blood vessels have room to expand, causing you to look like you just lost a battle with allergies. While it sucks if you're a high-school senior trying to sneak past Mom and Dad, that same pressure release is what makes marijuana such an important treatment for glaucoma — which causes increased pressure in your eye and on your retinal nerve. Not everyone gets bad red-eye from marijuana, but if you seem to always have stoplight peepers after puffing, then your best bet is to carry around a bottle of Visine — a stoner's friend since 1963. The chemicals in Visine cause your blood vessels to constrict, minimizing your stoned glaze.

Dear Stoner: My wife and I are trying to plan a quick, cheap Caribbean beach getaway. I know herb is illegal down there, but are there any countries I should avoid entirely? I don't want to end up sharing a cell just because I lit up a spliff on my hotel balcony. Thanks.

Travelin' Light

Dear Travelin': You're right: Marijuana isn't legal anywhere in the Caribbean. That said, some countries take it more seriously than others. Marijuana possession is a big deal in the Cayman Islands, for example, and police often set up undercover stings to bust tourists — which send them straight to jail. And since there is no bail, you'll sit there until a judge sees you and levies a hefty fine on your ass and deports you from the country. Bermuda and the Bahamas have a similar attitude toward ganja, so they probably shouldn't be high on your travel wish list, either. And, of course, stay away from the Florida Keys. As tropical as they may be, they still are part of the ass-backwards Florida legal system.

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