Carl Hart on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Grown-Up Highs

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In a world where drug legalization efforts are on the march and the pernicious effects of drug prohibition on criminal justice, education, foreign policy, and racial and ethnic communities are being scrutinized like never before, Columbia University neuroscientist Carl Hart is breaking bold new ground on how we think about drug policy, substance use and abuse, and individual freedom.

In his controversial book Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, Hart makes the case that adults should be free to use the intoxicants of their choosing. “The Declaration of Independence guaranteed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all of us, as long as we don’t disrupt anybody else’s ability to do the same,” says Hart. “That means we get to live our life as we choose, as we see fit. Taking drugs is a part of that for a lot of Americans.” He writes that his use of drugs—including heroin—helps him be a better person. “I do not have a drug-use problem,” he declares. “Never have. Each day, I meet my parental, personal, and professional responsibilities. I pay my taxes, serve as a volunteer in my community…and contribute to the global community as an informed and engaged citizen.”

In this live taping of The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie, Hart talks about all that, his path-breaking research on addiction, how he turned from an ardent supporter of the drug war to one of its leading critics, elitism within the legalization movement, and how he talks with his kids and his students about responsible drug use.

Interview by Nick Gillespie; edited by Adam Czarnecki.

Photo Credits: Shane T. Mccoy/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Jim Gehrz/ZUMA Press/Newscom; Francois Pesant/Polaris/Newscom

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