Neuroscientist Carl Hart explains why: “Drugs Aren’t the Problem”

Click on through for a great discussion about drug addiction with renowned Neuroscientist Carl Hart: Here is an excerpt: DR. CARL HART: Well, I come from—as you said, I grew up in the hood. And so, when we think about these communities that we care about, the communities that have been so-called devastated by drugs of abuse, I believed that narrative for a long time. In fact, I’ve been studying drugs for about 23 years; for about 20 of those years, I believed that drugs were the problems in the community. But when I started to look more carefully, started looking at the evidence more carefully, it became clear to me that drugs weren’t the problem. The problem was poverty, drug policy, lack of jobs—a wide range of things. And drugs were just one sort of component that didn’t contribute as much as we had said they have. AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the findings of these studies. I mean, you’ve been publishing in the most elite scientific journals now for many years. DR. CARL HART: Yes. So, one of the things that shocked me when I first started to understand what was going on, when I discovered that 80 to 90 percent of the people who actually use drugs like crack cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana—80 to 90 percent of those people were not addicted. I thought, “Wait a second. I thought that once you use these drugs, everyone becomes addicted, and that’s why we had these problems.” That was one thing that I found out. Another thing that I found out is that if you provide alternatives to...

Economics Behind the U.S. Government’s Unwinnable War on Drugs

A new article by Benjamin Powell explaining the economics of the drug war has appeared here. The conclusions are listed below. People who read to the end will receive a free joke: Drug prohibition, like US alcohol prohibition (1920-33), has failed abjectly. Prohibition cannot be transformed into an effective policy by a mere tweaking of current policy. This economic analysis emphasises that fighting a supply-side drug war ensures that drug suppliers’ revenues will soar, enabling drug traffickers to continue to expand and increase their efforts to supply drugs in response to greater enforcement. The result is a drug war with worsening outcomes and increasing cost and violence. Furthermore, it is important to recognise the other inevitable consequences of prohibition which are also perverse. Prohibition encourages street drugs to become more potent and have less predictable purity than if these drugs were regulated. Thus people who use street drugs pay higher prices, are at greater risk and, and are more likely to commit crimes to pay the inflated prices for drugs. Inevitably, relying on law enforcement to reduce the supply of drugs impairs health and increases violence. There are two paths alternatives: relying predominantly on demand measures or regulation of the market. Regulation of drugs is more complete response to the problem of drugs. It is more respectful of individual liberty. Although consumption might increase, drug consumption would be less dangerous and accompanied by less violence. But drug education would probably be more effective in decreasing drug consumption and the severe unintended side effects of the current policy of prohibition would be avoided. Q) How many prohibitionists does it take...

Alternatives to Prohibition

Over in our right-hand column you will find a link to the newly released Australia21 report Alternatives to Prohibition: Illicit drugs: How we can stop killing and criminalising young Australians. You will also find links to a number of other reports that highlight different approaches to drug laws around the world and the effect they have had. The release of such a widely publicised document on drug policy draws a considerable amount of attention and generates a tremendous amount of discussion. Here are a number of feature articles that have appeared over the last week: Drug use is an issue for society, not the criminal justice system by Richard Horton Dobbing mothers unite for drug reform by Lisa Pryor Drug prohibition: moving to Plan B by Alex Wodak Australia’s pointless and deadly drugs crackdown by Greg Barns A new approach to drug reform: regulated supply of cannabis and ecstasy by David Penington Leaders know they have stupid drug policies, but don’t have the guts to change them by Tory Shepherd Expert supports legalising drugs in The Northern...

Joint Statement Against Compulsory Treatment

UNESCO on compulsory drug detention: United Nations entities call on States to close compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres and implement voluntary, evidence-informed and rights-based health and social services in the community The continued existence of compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres, where people who are suspected of using drugs or being dependent on drugs, people who have engaged in sex work, or children who have been victims of sexual exploitation are detained without due process in the name of “treatment” or “rehabilitation”, is a serious...