Dr. Carl Hart: Bringing Cannabis Science to the Forefront


Reefer Madness propaganda has unfortunately poisoned our political discourse regarding cannabis and a multitude of misinformation remains to this day. Thankfully, more and more scientific facts are starting to cut through the madness, led by Columbia University Professor Dr. Carl Hart. A scientist, activist, educator and author, his bestselling book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, is an important look at how our society’s ideas about drugs have been so wrong. Tragically, misconceptions have led to a Drug War that has unnecessarily harmed too many people, especially those of color and of low income.

Dr. Hart, who recently testified in federal court about the ridiculous federal classification of marijuana, sat down with the Legalization Nation blog of the East Bay Express to talk about his work and his upcoming keynote address at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) this weekend in San Francisco. From the Legalization Nation (LN):

LN: What message do you hope to carry to the businessmen and activists at the ICBC?

Hart: The number one thing I want people to understand is there is a lot of misinformation out there about cannabis, some of it coming from the scientific community, particularly in terms of exaggerating the harmful effects associated with cannabis. At some point, these [business] folks will come across this information, so I want to make sure they know how to evaluate it critically and make thoughtful decisions about it. That’s number one. Number two: Cannabis business and capitalism is growing in the United States and one of the things I want to help them to understand is they can be leaders in making sure that the folks they hire in their businesses look like people in the United States and not just white.

LN: I had a progressive, sixtysomething African-American Oakland woman ask me, “What’s legalization going to do to the boys selling pot on [her] corner? Are they going to be out of a job? Then what?” What do you make of the critique that rich, white males stand to gain the most from legalization?

Hart: Yeah, you know I sympathize with that person, obviously. I mean, I sold marijuana, you know? But the fact is this: We can’t expect one fledgling, developing industry alone to solve this major problem in the United States, which the republic has ignored since we came out of slavery. That’s not even logical.

This is from just the first excerpt from an ongoing conversation with Dr. Hart. Please check out the entire post as well as future pieces on his work, both for Legalization Nation and their podcast, The Hash.

I am very excited to learn from Dr. Carl Hart and many other amazing speakers this weekend at the ICBC. If you are in the San Francisco area this weekend and interested in the cannabis industry or advocacy, this is the event for you. It is always great to have the cannabis industry and activists working together to end cannabis prohibition. Aided by the scientific research from Dr. Hart and others, the days of Reefer Madness are almost over. I, for one, am looking forward to that day.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.