Carl Hart’s Radically Different Approach to Drug Policy

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Nearly 30 years ago, Columbia University neuropsychopharmacologist Dr. Carl Hart set out to find the mechanisms in the brain responsible for cocaine addiction.

He couldn’t.

“After 20 years of being unsuccessful,” he explains, “I realized that the psychosocial environment — including laws — is far more important than the drugs themselves. And far more important than neurobiology.”

Hart will give a lecture at the Peter Wall Institute’s upcoming  Wall Exchange on May 23 at the Vogue Theatre in Downtown Vancouver. 

“This is really about adults having the right to choose their pleasures,” Hart says. “And the people who are addicted to drugs — they’re not addicted to the drug because it’s a drug. It’s because of psychosocial factors. The vast majority of people who use any drug never become addicted. So, we can’t blame the drugs.”