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...

Drug policy

Another eventful few weeks in drug policy. Perhaps the major international event last week was the New Zealand parliament passing (by 119 votes to 1) the Psychoactive Substances Bill McLay’s opening remarks were: I move, That the Psychoactive Substances Bill be now read a third time. It is my hope that today we take a very significant step to protect New Zealanders, particularly young New Zealanders, from the harm caused by untested drugs and an unregulated market. The Government’s position is clear, as I believe this House’s is. No one will be allowed to sell psychoactive products unless it can be shown that those products pose no more than a low risk of harm. Passing this bill will ensure that these products cannot be sold to children, that they cannot be sold from dairies, and that there are robust controls on what is in them and how they can be marketed. These are exactly the arguments that drug law reformers have been making for years. McLay was right to argue that the critical issue is the presence of untested drugs in an unregulated market. Another lesson from this event is that successful drug law reform usually requires bipartisan support. NZ has a long and impressive history of international trail blazing to which can now be added starting to regulate the unregulated drug market ********************************************************************************************************** A Current Affair (Channel Nine) has a large audience. A recent edition focused on community protests about the location of a methadone clinic in Western Sydney. But surely health services have to go somewhere? So too do police stations and fire stations. Few are ecstatic...

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...

Denmark withdraws funding from the UNODC

Australia should take note of this recent decision by Denmark. Does Australia know if any of its donations to UNODC or Asian countries are used in part or full for executions of people convicted of drug offenses? Or used for compulsory treatment? It’s time that Australia made an open commitment to only donate funds for prevention, drug treatment or harm reduction. More information about the link between international aid, drug enforcement and human rights violations can be found on the London School of Economics...

Breaking the Taboo (documentary)

Breaking the Taboo is a global grass-roots campaign website against the War on Drugs, run by the Beckley Foundation in association with The Global Commission on Drug Policy, Virgin Unite, Avaaz and Sundog Pictures. The Mission Statement of the campaign is the Beckley Foundation Public Letter calling for a new approach to the War on Drugs, signed by nine Presidents, twelve Nobel prizewinners, and many other world figures. The site hosts a coalition of international NGOs, united in their belief that the War on Drugs has failed and that global drug policy can and must be reformed. An Avaaz petition is hosted on the site, which will be presented to the UN. We hope that by collecting together so many voices calling for change, we will finally be able to persuade governments and lawmakers into adopting a humane and rational approach to...