Carl Hart, PhD, a neuroscientist and associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Columbia University, recently gave a compelling TEDMED Talk in which he dispelled the myths about drugs, drug use and drug misuse. In the talk, Hart eloquently discussed the negative influence that drug hysteria had on the flawed drug laws the United States grapples with today.
His unflinching, eye-opening talk mirrored his widely-renowned book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society (HarperCollins, 2013), a groundbreaking memoir/science book which recently won the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.
“My TED talk is a public education effort to combat drug myths, bad drug policy, and to help keep people safe,” said Dr. Hart. “Millions of people languish unnecessarily in jails and prisons largely, and still others needlessly die from preventable overdoses, underground market violence and police interactions, due to a misguided approach to drug regulations. And no one suffers more than African American men and the poor.”
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Hart, who is a board member of the Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization promoting alternatives to current drug policies, demonstrates thorough clinical research and insightful social analysis. He maintains that what plagued poor black communities during the 1980s was less crack-cocaine, than it was unemployment, racism and hopelessness. Further, he provides evidence showing that the overwhelming majority (80% – 90%) of all drug use is not, in fact, problematic or indicative of addiction. The real social catastrophe, he argues, is the criminalization and stigmatization of that population.