A Starred Review
Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear.
By Carl L. Hart
By grown-ups, Columbia University psychology professor Hart, who studies the effects of psychoactive drugs in humans, here means “autonomous, responsible, well-functioning adults” who “meet their parental, occupational, and social responsibilities.” In other words, the vast majority of those who consume amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, psychedelics, even opioids, while continuing to lead productive lives, according to the author.
The larger issues, says Hart, are the demonization of those pursuing personal happiness through drugs (pursuit of happiness being at the very foundation of the Declaration of Independence), society’s false hierarchy that decides which drugs are “acceptable” and “not acceptable,” drug enforcement that disfavors Black people (who are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for pot than their white counterparts, while using it at about the same rate, per the ACLU), and the lack of a governmental testing program that could detect contaminants in street drugs, and thus save possibly thousands of lives annually.
Every step of the way, Hart backs up his conclusions with science, showing, for example, how the actual, usually more benign, effects of a drug can often contradict the news media’s negative portrayal of it. A timely, fact-based, coherent, humane counterargument to America’s spectacularly failed War on Drugs.
— Alan Moores