tv Book TV After Words CSPAN June 15, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
>> host: welcome to "after words." i am juan williams and our guest today is the or sub two and his book "high price" a neuroscientist's journey of self-discovery that challenges everything you know about drugs and society. dr. hart is a member of the national advisory council on drug abuse and he is also an associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at columbia university. he is a board member for college on problems of drug dependency and he has conducted 22 years of research and narrow cycle pharmacology and the science of drug addiction. doc or hart welcome to "after words." >> guest: it's great to be here. >> host: this is a fascinating book and it's your personal story as well as the work or the
results of your work in science but the heart and soul of that i would say and i hope if i'm wrong you tell me i'm wrong, is that you are saying do you know what? i think you estimated 20 plus million americans who do a legal drugs. >> guest: i don't estimate. the national government conducts a survey every year and this has been known for some time. there are 20 plus nine americans who use drugs on a regular basis. >> host: you also say that generations over time people have always used drugs. >> guest: people have always used drugs and people always will use drugs. that's a fact. >> guest: i did not know that one. >> host: okay but your point in writing this book as a scientist is that given these realities the impact that drugs have on social policy, on race, on our culture is oftentimes
distorted by lack of evidence-based thinking. instead people rely on and it does or on fears rather than on the facts. so is that the heart and soul of this book? >> guest: that's the heart and soul of this book. one of the things that has been troubling for me when it many years is drugs have been used for scapegoats. whatever their social problems we use drugs as escape no. the problem for me is that people who look like me are often scapegoated more so than other folks and as a scientist who knows the facts about drugs that is very disturbing. >> host: okay. i would think as a black person that would need very disturbing. >> guest: that is exactly what i mean. >> host: let's stop for a second and try to understand something that is race related in this regard which you say is just an outrage which is the fact that when you look at
something like the 1980s and the crack-cocaine use you say you know people identify this as a black community problem when in fact more whites use crack than blacks and similarly more lax went to jail, arrested for crack use than whites even though more whites were using the drug. how do you explain that? >> guest: i explain it by, it's kind of simple. the short answer is racism and this isn't new. when i say racism i mean that what we do is we put our police resources in communities of color, primarily by communities and you can easily catch people doing something illegal. no matter what grade i drive my car for example, i sometimes pass the speed limits. that's an illegal activity. if they want they can give me a ticket and so that doesn't happen. because the resources are not where i am at most of the time.
i hang out on the upper west side but if you want to catch people doing crimes you put your police resources in those communities and that is what has happened. this isn't new. one of the things like the crack-cocaine thing, it's important to note that in the early 1900s cocaine was used by a wide number of americans. it was in coca-cola for example. it was in a number of products. now there was concern when black people started to use cocaine. for example i think "the new york times" ran an article in 1914 about black folks being the new southern menace but black cocaine being the new southern menace and the way that cocaine was talked about or black people being under the influence of cocaine was talked about was that it caused them to be more murderous. it caused them to rape white women. it caused them to be unaffected by the all of's.
all of this nonsense. this was going on then and it's going on now although the language has been tempered but drugs are such easy scapegoats. most of the population don't use drugs. you can't say these things about alcohol, even though alcohol is pharmacologically active and just like any other drug like cocaine but you can't say these crazy things about alcohol because many people drink alcohol and they know the effects of alcohol. fewer people use cocaine so you can tell incredible stories about cocaine. >> host: but you think it's still the case today that you could credibly come on c-span or anywhere else and say a oh yeah people who use cocaine gain superhuman strength arrest that "new york times" article said if you shoot me and my leg i won't feel it if i use cocaine?
i think everyone would say you are crazy. >> guest: let's go back a couple of years ago. there was an incident in miami where this guy, i think they call that the zombie incident where he chewed off the face of another guy. do you recall that? originally had said the report was that the person was on bath salts, a new drugs so whenever there is a new drug or a new form of drug you can say these incredible stories about the drug and be believed. certainly it was believed that bath salts -- bath salts cause the sky to chew this guys face off. a toxicology when up. the toxicology when we check to see what was in this person system there were no bath salts. the only thing that was in the person system was mayor one and not that marijuana was even in the system or not that he had recently smoked marijuana but we know marijuana within his system. so with crack-cocaine, the things that we said about crack-cocaine in the 1980s we said that it caused this
incredible amounts of violence. now we couldn't have said that about powder cocaine and we couldn't have said that about powder cocaine because the number of americans using powder cocaine particularly americans who were middle-class. and so we had to have the new route. smoking it, not powder cocaine but the crack-cocaine cause these incredible effects and we believed as the country. a country. in part because we thought it was something new when in fact it's the same drug. >> host: so you were saying something new oftentimes leads to this hysteric reaction? >> guest: that's right. really anything new. there aren't any real new drugs on the scene. that's the myth for the most part read many of these drugs have been with us forever. >> host: wait a second, hear about new drugs, the club drugs and i don't know all the names with the drugs that people take and there are more chemical compounds i believed then marijuana. >> guest: let's just think
about it. let's think about methamphetamine. people act against a new drug. that's been around since the early 1900s. we think about ecstasy one of the club drugs in the early 2000. people discovered that and they thought this was something new. it's been with us since 1912. many of these compounds have been with us. it's just that they get a new group of users and when that new group of users is a group that we despise that's a recipe for a hysteria that we see. >> host: let's come back to i think the central point of the book which is lots of americans use illegal drugs and your argument is not for drug legalization. by the way among the americans who use illegal drugs president obama, president bush, george h.w. bush and also bill clinton and you say these are people who acknowledged drug use but have gone on to do great things any
point out is you just did that they weren't caught up in the network of police arrests that can oftentimes derail success in america. >> guest: that's right. >> host: now when you look at the use of illegal drugs your point again not for legalization or say but for education and you talk about the idea that people should know what's in a psychoactive drug before they get involved. and one of your arguments that i found estimating his most people who use illegal drugs are not addicts by your tip definition and it doesn't interfere with parenting and with worker with relationships. i think most americans if they heard this they would say but doc or hart you are taking away all of the hype and the fear that we want our children to hear that it might be better to say to children don't do drugs.
even if your argument is chew their people who do illegal drugs and don't suffer consequences. why is it better given what you said about the police in networks of crime that had been attached, why wouldn't you say it's better to say to kids don't do drugs? >> guest: well for one i'm a professor so one of the things i think is more important is to teach people how to think. when you say don't do drugs or just say no, there is no thinking going on. now if you have a curious kid which you would hope you would have your kid will be curious to find out for themselves. so my issue is that why not give the kid the proper education, so if they choose to indulge many will not but if they do choose to indulge they will be safe. that's number one. so i have children myself. i have a 12-year-old and an 18-year-old and a 30-year-old but the 12 in 18-year-old are in that age group were you worried.
my kids, i worry far more about the environment which we have created surrounding drugs, the hysteria because that environment allows police officers to look at my kids like they fit the description of the drug user. so i fear that interaction, my kids interaction with the police a hell of a lot more than i fear the interaction of my kid with drugs. because i can teach them about drugs because i know drug effexor predictable but this interaction with black voice and police is not predictable. >> host: both could be avoided by avoiding drug use. >> guest: certainly and my kids might avoid it but the point is that there are kids who want and so if they do not avoided at least you're keeping them safe by having them have the education, giving them the correct information. not only that, you are not only teaching them about drugs that you are teaching them how to
think critically and teaching them how to evaluate information. that is what i value as a professor. but you talked about legalization and one of the things i want to make clear is that yeah i'm not encouraging legalization. i am for decriminalization so decriminalization looks like this. what you do is drugs are still illegal but when people are caught, instead of having their criminal record they receive a civil fine just like you would if they had a driving violation. that way, you get rid of this notion orifice impact on their future. if they get caught they don't have a criminal record and they can go on and get a job. they could maybe even become president but as long as we have these drugs as illegal that's less like the. >> host: so in this book you talk about your own experiences.
and you talk about smoking marijuana and doing cocaine and look at you. you have become extraordinarily successful by any measure. and you say again that most drug users and not going to be involved in crime although you say addiction and crime are related. you say that most drug users are not going to get involved with criminal activity. you say most have full-time jobs. so what's the difference then if you are talking to your son, not to me, and you say what's the difference between the smart way to use illegal drugs and the way? >> guest: one of the things you have to do, if people are using illegal drugs or any drugs, even drugs from their physician they should know what the effects of the drug czar. one of the things that amphetamines are really good at doing is keeping you awake.
sleep is a central function for human behavior and physiology. if your sleep is disrupted too much you can have all kinds of problems. psychological problems, health problems a wide range of disorders associated with lack of sleep so you want to make sure if you take amphetamine you were not taking it near bedtime and if you take amphetamine you want to make sure you get the proper amount of sleep. if we think about something like heroin one of the things we have failed as a country is to properly educate people about heroin overdose. the country thinks it's relatively easy to od from heroin. that's just not true. it's not supported by evidence. the problem becomes when heroin is mixed with another sedative like alcohol. 75% of the heroin overdose deaths occur in combination with something like alcohol. now given that is the case the public health message is clear.
don't use heroin in combination with a sedative. if you just simply blast that message out to the public we could save a number of lives. that's another story. let's think about other drugs. let's think about cocaine. one of the things we know is that cocaine is cut off in with these adulterants, cut with a drug called the ban assault. one of the side effects is that it decreases white buds sells. that means that it decreases the body's ability to fight off infection. people can get sick and in extreme cases die so given that's the case you want to make sure that people understand that hey if you are using cocaine a large percentage of it nowadays is cut with that. you might want to stay away from that. >> host: you might want to stay away from? >> guest: stay away from cocaine on the street excess of
what it's being cut with or you might want to know what your drug is being cut with. the occult trends are in many cases or problematic than the actual drugs themselves but the public health message isn't getting out there with the real problems. instead we are too busy trying to vilify our typical drugsdrugs, drugs, cocaine, heroin and are one as opposed to making sure that we educate people. >> host: well i think again we have come back to this idea in nancy reagan's words just say no to drugs or the war on drugs. you point out in the book that is i believe more than 3000% increase in the amount of spending on the war on drugs between 1970 and 2011 with very little consequence in terms of depressing the amount of use of marijuana, heroin or cocaine. >> guest: that's right. >> host: so by that measure not months difference but again from a parent's point of view do i really want my children to take the risk and say you know
don't use this drug with that drug or know that this drug is cut with this. do i really want to educate them in this way if there's a risk that it might say to them do you know what, it's okay to use drugs? >> guest: if you are parenting is focused on drug education you are in trouble as a parent. you should be educating your kids about responsibility, but their future and about a wide range of things. if your parenting is focused on drug use you are already in trouble. my parenting barely focuses on drug use. my parenting is mick insure that my kids get into the proper college of the school that i want them to get into and make sure that their s.a.t. scores are where they need to be and make sure they know how to write and communicate. those sorts of things so if your parenting is focused on drugs you're in trouble because all of these things that i've just described, that is the best drug prevention.
not this just say no sort of thing and if the kids are, if they are curious and they want to know about drugs teach them because if they do indulge, they will at least be safe because we know. my research, myself, in my research i have given over 2000 doses of these drugs so i know these drugs can be given safely and i know they can be administered safely. i mean you don't have to look at my research. you can ask americans. asked the guy in the white house and asked the guy before him, ask the guy before him. if we think about event president kennedy, he used amphetamines throughout his administration safely and we revere him. we think he has made a contribution so this notion of drugs being so dangerous is misguided and it's very limited, that focus. >> host: is a possible people
who are weekend users of heroin or cocaine, and you say this doesn't necessarily interfere with their ambition, with their discipline? is that right? it seems to me almost counterintuitive that if someone is abusing such strong psychoactive drugs that they are a fully functional member of the community. >> guest: when we say song -- strong psychoactive drugs one of the strongest psychoactive drugs is nicotine but we do make that statement. it requires a small amount of nicotine to have an effect and every sick or there is one milligram. one milligram of cocaine wouldn't do anything for you so i don't think the notion that these drugs are strong, that's the myth. >> host: amec? so you think when what i talk about the hall and tobacco that they may be more deleterious to my well-being than cocaine or heroin?
>> guest: certainly but the thing we have to understand is that with education we can enhance the positive effects of all of these drugs including alcohol, including cocaine, including heroin and with education we can decrease the negative effects. so the first thing we have to understand is that yes there are people who can use cocaine on the weekend, heroin on the weekend and go to work and pay their taxes. the question that you asked about heroin and cocaine, just think about asking the same question for alcohol. are there people who can drink alcohol in a weekend and go to work on monday and be responsible individuals? yes but hell yes. the same is true with cocaine and heroin. >> host: this a mistura even though again in the american public's mind those two drugs are far more powerful? >> guest: yes. the myths in the american public's minds are sometimes --
that the public as i said has been miseducated about drugs. >> host: here we are and here's your book. again the book is called "high price" a neuroscientist's journey of self-discovery that challenges everything you know about drugs and society. tell us, what would you say? here you are and you have this platform on c-span. what is it that we should no? >> guest: what we are talking about what we should know. i mean the notion that drugs, but most of the people who use drugs for example are addicted is just not true. most of the people who use drugs do so when they go to work. if you go or to use any drug you should understand that you should respect the fact that they are powerful and potentially powerful psychoactive substances. if you don't use drugs without respect you run the risk of getting in trouble. so if you know about the effects of the drug that you are taking then you increase the likelihood that you will be safe.
>> host: where'd you go for such information? >> guest: go to my book for one. one of the things we think about the internet, the internet has a lot of information but there is no quality control. that is a major concern. their other books that amend written on the subject like we have talked about earlier. i have a textbook on the subject in which we talk mainly about the biological effects of drugs on people's behavior and on people. but that, those kinds of books are very dry and the public gets bored. so i think this book, "high price" is a start. >> host: explain again to the viewer. this book is not a textbook in any way. it's largely your personal story and then talking about drug use in your life and that about your research in combination. so what we are talking about drug use for example you
mentioned you know that you have done cocaine and done it over period of time. i think you said you were doing it twice a month with a girlfriend but it's not the case that you ran out of cocaine and you felt any compunction to get more or you were somehow unable to function because you are using cocaine. instead you talk about larger motivational forces in your life, your desire to succeed in education and your desire to earn money in your desire to have a lover. these rather forces. let's transfer that to the lab in working with rats. he said you said in this book you have to take rats out of the caged isolated environment and put them in a more social environment and then you see that they make choices about drug use that doesn't lead them to kill themselves by constantly pushing the lever. so what you are saying to americans is you have to see drugs as part of a normal life?
>> guest: so when we think about the lab, many of us have heard the stories where if you allow an animal to self administer drug like cocaine they will do so until they kill themselves. many of us have heard that but what we don't hear is that those rats or those animals were still isolated the only thing that they could do was take cocaine and certainly if your life consisted of you being in his cage and the only thing available is cocaine that is what you will do. now if you put another animal in a cage, for example in animal of the opposite sex cocaine is no longer as attractive. if you put sweetwater net cage, cocaine is no longer attractive. if you put a running quail in that cage cocaine is no longer attractive so when we have these alternatives in our lives and many of us do it decreases the impact or the attractiveness of cocaine or other drugs. we know this as parents, as
citizens. we all know this. if we have jobs we know that we have to go to our jobs in order to get the respect and regard and all the rest of this because if we don't then we have nothing. so sometimes drug use interferes with your ability to do your job, to get this positive regard the cocaine may have to go. that certainly was the case in my life. >> host: tell us. >> guest: tell us about? >> host: in your life. >> guest: cocaine as you pointed out, it was something that i was experimenting with a girlfriend and that was fine. it didn't interfere with my work. i had a job at something like ups and it didn't interfere with my work but if it had i wouldn't have done it because i know i was going somewhere and i had a future. i knew i wanted to go somewhere else because they knew if
cocaine would have disrupted my ability to make money in that situation i would no longer have a girlfriend. >> host: hold on, this is an interesting point. let's say ups had a drug testing policy and that would have cost you your job. and all you felt you were doing was experimenting with a girlfriend but in fact it had this dire consequence for your future much as we were talking about young men, especially young black men, marijuana, crack, whatever, higher rates of arrest even though whites do more of the drug but it has the terrible consequence for their future. so in terms of public policy are you against drug testing? >> guest: of course, i'm against drug testing, the fifth amendment. i'm against drug testing. i think drug testing first of all it tells you nothing about the level of intoxication of the person at the moment.
so the thing that we are concerned about particularly in some sensitive jobs we don't want people to be intoxicated on those jobs. the best way to see if someone is intoxicated is to look at their behavior, not their year in because that tells you absolutely nothing. for example if you had a beer or alcohol in the past couple of days or so i can test your sweat and see whether or not you have a go hall metabolites but it tells me nothing about her ability to conduct business. that's essentially what we are doing with drug testing. >> host: someone could have smoked marijuana a week ago and they test their urine and that's positive. it tells us nothing about their behavior currently. >> host: how would you then determine that i was a pilot or a driver of a vehicle or even a schoolteacher? how do you determine if this person is in fact abusing drugs or it's interfering with her
capacity to perform the function you are paying them to do? >> guest: you watch their performance just like when you are on tv or you write your books. you look at your performance. her performance is not up to par you don't keep your job. it's kind of simple. the thing with the drug testing, it provides this false sense of security like you are doing something when in fact you are not. it tells you nothing about the area of interest. i want to make sure people are performing and that they are doing their job. drug testing doesn't tell you anything about that. >> host: one of the interesting points that you make in the book in response to my argument about should we just tell kids don't do drugs? you say when you say that to a child, a child being curious and tries drugs and then says well my dad lied to me the kasai did drugs and amid didn't make me go crazy and doesn't run my performance in school.
so the question then becomes one of honesty. you want the child to be able to believe you. okay but at the same time the child may think i'm okay but maybe as you were concerned when you are a youncerned when you are a young person it in fact decreases the level of your performance whether it's on the basketball court or in a classroom and how do you deal with that problem? >> guest: so if a child is using drugs? >> host: they say i feel kind of the next day i'm doing okay but impact what in fact what you see as the child gets up later in its not performing as well in school. how do you respond? >> guest: you respond as a parent. obviously. if that's your child and your child is not tending to his or her responsibilities there should be consequences to that. that's what we do as parents. whether the child is not handling their responsibility as a result of drugs or as a result of some other behavioral activity there are consequences. it's kind of simple.
drugs are not special in that way. >> host: well they are be as as you know if they are illegal drugs that could lead to jail. >> guest: certainly but now that's different that what you are saying. of course if we are worrying about the legality that is something different. i tell my kids in terms of this, black people are more likely to be arrested for drugs. therefore if you ever used drugs you don't use them out there. you do so here because i'm worried about the police more so than anything else. so yeah that's a whole different level of concern there. white parents don't have the same level of concern about this illegality as my kids and we have to understand that. >> host: i think white parents of course are worried about their children getting arrested but in terms of ratios in statistics is much more likely for children of color to be impacted by the arrest record and the damage to their future? >> guest: absolutely. go to rikers i'll end there is a
young kid from new york city. there aren't any white kids there. we know that. >> host: in the book and again the book is called "high price" a neuroscientist's journey of self-discovery that challenges everything you know about drugs and society, by dr. carl hart you talk about an episode in your youth in miami where you saw a white man get shot in retaliation for shooting and then your sister get shot. this is all drug-related so you understand the negative consequences that comes from people who think well sure i can handle drugs no big deal, just a weekend user so isn't that contradictory to what you are saying about well you know people get hide it doesn't really damage anything? >> guest: well, like my sister being shot that was not drug related. that was some adolescent beef that kid's head. kids have. >> host: i thought there was a drug element to that.
>> guest: no but they white guy being shot he was there simply to buy marijuana but there was an incident that happened earlier in the day between some other white guys in the black guys in my neighborhood so that was more race. this guy happened to be buying marijuana in the neighborhood so the major problem here with the race. that was the issue there. that was the racial tension of miami in 1980. >> host: correct but what i'm saying is it leads to the shooting of your sister but what i am saying this drug element, drugs seem to be part of in this actually emphasizes the point you make in the book, the larger social structure, the larger social tensions, poverty, abandonment and all these issues when drugs come into it they can act as in scientific terms that catalyst. it can speed up negative reactions. >> guest: they can exact --
exacerbate problems absolutely. >> host: that is why i was thinking is the best essay, say no to drugs? >> guest: a would be best if you are white and middle-class to say no to drugs because then we don't -- though they don't have to worry so much about the consequences about the environment that we have set up by just saying no. when you just say no you act as if the drug itself is causing these problems so you set up this environment. police forces have to get rid of these drugs because we have said that they are awful when in fact they are not. the people who will pay the consequences are people who look like you and me primarily. so no, i can't accept that as a black person. as an educator it's just not consistent with teaching people how to think. >> host: because people are curious and people are going to try it. >> guest: people are going to try things and we would like to decrease the harm when they do
try it. >> host: i don't. >> host: i don't understand one point that you said where is the ur white person you it might make sense to say no to drugs? why wouldn't it make sense if you're a black pair and? >> guest: my point is if you take a single approach and you're done you are done with it but when you take that single approach there is also -- though there are also other actions that occur so we say just say no that means now we set up this whole entire environment where drugs are bad and we have to go after them at any cost and the cost of being primarily impaired by this black community is all i was suggesting. i'm not saying that a parent should say, should tell their kids they should use drugs or anything like that. no, i'm not suggesting that. >> host: you in this conversation have referred to nicotine, alcohol as drugs. so we don't have much discussion about that in this book but the
question occurs, so what would you tell somebody given there are so many americans who smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, more than erdogan at, cocaine and heroin put together so what would you say to them about the intelligent use of those broderick's? >> guest: we think about all for example. moderate alcohol drinking in men and women has been associated with improvement of health, decreased heart rate, decreased drugs and all these sorts of things with moderate drinking. there are clear beneficial effects of alcohol. it's just when people overindulge, that's when they get in trouble. besides every society needs an intoxicant. if you try to ban alcohol good luck is every society needs an intoxicant. >> host: we did try it. >> guest: we did try it and we no longer have it. in terms of tobacco, tobacco also has some positive effects.
it enhances your memory, alertness and all the rest of these things and some people understand that it keeps weight off for some folks. that product, that's a little more problematic for me because of the potential for cancers and those sorts of things but we still have to be mindful that the vast majority of the people who smoke tobacco did not get cancer. they don't get all of those awful diseases. so i don't want to get crazy about that either but i just want people to understand their potential consequences but there there are potential consequences but there are also benefits and people make these calculations where they weigh the risk/benefit ratio of all the things that they do, whether it's living in new york city or whether it's smoking tobacco. there are risk-benefit ratios that we weigh all the time. >> host: so in these cases up to haul and secrets what you
seem to be counseling is moderation and knowing what you are doing. >> guest: yes. >> host: is that similar then to the way you view what we consider for what we have deemed to be illegal drugs like marijuana and heroin and cocaine? >> guest: that is a difficult question but i will answer because on the one hand they are illegal activity so the short answer is absolutely. if you're going to be using these drugs know what you are doing. this is a whole different conversation that we have been having in the country about drugs. when we talk about drugs we are cognitively adolescent in this country when we talk about drugs. what i'm trying to do is to make sure we have a conversation where we treat people like they are intellectual adults. so yes, if people are going to use those drugs know what they are doing. what they should also know about the dose in the amount of drug they are using, the amount of
drug you use, moderation, all these things, they should know the side effects because all of these drugs have side effects and they should know everything about the drug. and if they do that, if they do their research not only will they be improving their skills in this area, they will also be improving their critical thinking skills. >> host: which is as you say an absolute requirement and you say that clearly in the book. now when you are looking at the psychoactive effects and the mind altering effects of drugs which would you say is the most dangerous? >> guest: wow. it all depends on the user. for example if you are an older person and you have cardiovascular led pressure issues you probably want to stay away from the amphetamines are those types of drugs. so it depends on who we are talking about and what conditions we are talking about.
so there are a number of young people in the country who are taking amphetamines for attention deficit disorder. it's essentially the same drug. a number of people are -- but you would not encourage older people to take that same drug. so what might he say for one group may not be safe for another group. >> host: okay and when it comes to this casual use versus addiction again your definition is the doesn't interfere with parenting, work or relationships. >> guest: is not only my definition but the definition from the american psychiatric association. this is from the dsm what i describe in the book. >> host: so when we are talking about addiction and people who become addictive give me a description of who is at risk and why they are at risk. >> guest: it's a difficult
one. when we think about addiction one of the things americans have done that is inappropriate when i think about it action, we act as if the drug itself is special. addiction has less to do with the pharmacology of the drug. it has a lot to do with whether or not people are plugged into society, whether or not they are responsible, a wide range of social factors play an important role but what we have done in the country is that we have paid less attention to those things because it is less to really talk about the fact that this person is irresponsible before they started using drugs. this person was overindulging in a wide range of behaviors before drugs. so instead what we have chosen to focus on is like the biology of the individual. what does their brain that quite? can we tell if someone is addicted to looking at the brain? hell no, there is no evidence
that would suggest that sort of thing but yet that is where we are looking and we should be looking but that has gotten a disproportionate amount of attention rather than the things that we know that are valuable. let's look at the person's environment. let's look at the persons, as a person. >> host: and that is where you would go. if you are dealing with an addict lets not simply imprison a person or punish the person. let's look at how we can restructure the environment? i think in the book you talk about drug user and the setting in which the drugs are used. here we are talking about in terms of trying to conduct remedial or mediation for an addict you are saying look at the larger society and the environment and look at the study of that individual. what if you can't control the environment? you can get them to good parents or he can give them a good school or you can't think these people are highly frustrated because they are not succeeding in the world.
what do you do with that person it finds them that they are at the point of addiction? >> guest: like you said we can't control everybody's environment and i don't know the answer to the people who we can't control everybody's environment that we have to decide if the society and i think we have decided as a society, we prefer to lock them up. that is the choice we have made and i think that's inappropriate. how about we see if we can give a person some job skills? how about we see if we can give the person some sort of her sponsor billy so they feel better about themselves? how about we do these kinds of things and at least we will be trying to make sure that they are paying taxes and they are contributing to society. >> host: now when we talk about drug policy right now in the united states there are number of states that are legalizing the rowana and a large debate about whether it should be nationally legalized. what position do you as a --
as a neuroscientist have on marijuana legalization and? >> guest: there are only two states that have legalized marijuana, washington and colorado. it's important to understand some things about the state. they are some of the widest states so when we think about legalization that is more diverse it ain't going to happen and how do i feel about marijuana legalization or legalization in general? i think that we should he be criminalizing all drugs first because we need to have a corresponding amount of education that goes along with that before we made these drugs more widely available. without corresponding education and then i would predict we are setting ourselves up for for-profits. so if we are going to ultimately legalized it the society may
decide that so i'm not saying that society should not but what i'm saying is that we need to really increase our education on drugs. that means we need to stop having talese officers replied drug education. we need to stop having politicians provide drug education. we need to make sure that when people talk about drugs week announced the question to those facts or does that information have foundations? >> host: wait, so you are saying you want the politicians and the police talking about drug use? you want the scientists and the physicians talking about drug use as drug educator's? >> guest: i don't even know if i want all of the scientist because they also have a neuro-focus on what they do. what i want, i want the public and i want people to be able to say to these folks the information that you are relating to me, do they have foundations and evidence?
not addict does that evidence. >> host: i didn't understand what you said at the start. he said colorado when washington are mostly white state so what if that have to do with drug education and? >> guest: that is something different. drug legalization, i'm saying one of the reasons -- so if we legalize marjuan up because we are worried about all of the drug arrests. >> host: i think there are people who want to use marijuana without fear of arrest. >> guest: right, so one of the sword of, some of the fuel that is pushing this is the large numbers of marijuana arrests and racial disparity. for example there's a new report that just came out today by the aclu and they showed nationwide that lack people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana even though they use the drug at the same rate as white folks, right?
so much of the few for this is racial disparity and what i am saying is that even though that is the case, the states in which there are large populations of black people there are no movements to legalize and are wanted. >> host: and that is because? >> guest: that is because i don't think it will happen in states that have large numbers of black people. >> host: i think there's something missing here. for example most of the states with large numbers of black people are in the southern part of the country and overwhelmingly dominated on the national level by republicans and conservative politicians who i think are less likely to be open to the idea of drug legalization. are you suggesting that it's black politicians who are resistant to this idea of? >> guest: no, no. >> host: so what is your point? >> guest: my point is i have a prediction. in states that have large number of black folks --
>> host: because white people are afraid of blacks would get intoxicated and act out? what are you saying? >> guest: actually i don't know that point. let's move on. >> host: all right but do you support or oppose marijuana legalization as we are seeing it in washington state and colorado? >> guest: do i support marijuana legalization and? i support whatever the voters vote for. i think it's a good move by the state of colorado when washington and i'm happy to see that, that they are pushing the envelope and forcing the conversation. >> host: you said earlier in our conversation you are not in favor generally have drug legalization and what you are in favor of is dhave drug legalization and what you are in favor of is drug decriminalization -- drug decriminalization. >> guest: no, i'm saying i support the voters of washington and colorado and i'm happy that
they have pushed the envelope and they are pushing this topic and the discussion. so if you ask me what i think we should do as a country i think we should decriminalize all drugs of. that's different but i support washington and colorado. >> host: what if this was a movement to legalize the use of cocaine and? would you feel the same way? >> guest: yeah i would feel the same way but i would encourage the american people, please get some proper edule, please get some proper education on these drugs. >> host: okay. now, when you hear about public instances like for example the celebrated case of trayvon martin down in florida, your home state. there is an argument there about a young man i think he is 16 or 17 when he dies, who had sold to marijuana and use of marijuana. should that be allowed into the court proceedings when it comes to evaluating who he was?
>> guest: well this goes back to the early articles written by the cocaine thing. one of the reasons that the defense is so adamant about bringing in trayvon martin's drug use history because they are playing on the perceptions of drug users. the perceptions of those so that people we'll see trayvon as a drug user and they would conjure up all of these images about drug users. >> host: it would have less
damages. >> guest: the characteristic is raised whether they are black or latino is an ethnicity so there are black latinos who the conspicuous characteristic is race and not so much what they speak. do you understand what i'm saying? >> host: okay so you think it's color, again but its blackness. >> guest: absolutely. i think that's important. i think the darker the skin and the neighborhood and all the rest of those things. not to say now that obviously in new york city we arrests a lot of hispanic and black folks. but i think in this case i'm asking you just to be specific. we are talking about trayvon martin who is lack. we can talk about in the bronx this kid ramarley graham who was killed by a police officer who killed him in his bathroom. he was black because he thought he had marijuana on him. so i'm just asking us to be
specific. the terms like person of color, it's okay but we are talking about trayvon martin. you and i both know he is a black eye. see what i'm saying to you is in the history of united states you think about the chinese in caricature it as opn users and crazed on drugs. and again you think about the latino community and all a bunch of cocaine being sort of completely ruining that community where they are selling cocaine. >> guest: i'm not familiar with that one. >> host: we can even think of scarface the movie. so i'm just thinking -- >> guest: when we think about things like scarface we didn't pass new laws as a result of scarface in the 80s, in the 1980s when i grew up that we
did pass laws about crack-cocaine when we saw the images of black people using cocaine. scarface was a cuban immigrant who came here or there were no new laws in the 1980s we had murder rates peaking in the country. there were no new laws. >> host: your argument is so many of these laws are really directed against black equal? >> guest: yeah. it's not only my argument. the evidence is there. >> host: the most i think prominent in support of your case would be the argument about the disparity and sentencing for powder cocaine versus crack-cocaine and again the point being crack-cocaine and i'm going to try to -- used mostly by black people not just poor people but black people versus potent -- powder cocaine use by white people.
>> guest: there is this perception that black people use cocaine at a greater risk. host. >> host: if you are introducing cocaine among people who have prominent status versus a community that has income poverty and racism oppression, i could go on. it seems to me there's going to be a result. >> guest: absolutely. we talked about this earlier where drugs or any other illegal activity can exacerbate it. you are wrong in trying to crack down on that community.
>> guest: i would say you are wrong to crack down on drug policies. drugs are probably less of a problem than employment, education and all of these other things. >> host: let me argue with you on this because what i know living here in washington d.c. in the black community is that if you have suddenly you know people pop up in crackhouses in your community it depresses the value of real estate and it drives away retail sales, small stores. it makes the community less attractive then suddenly you see the middle class and you say you know what maybe i should move out of here. those are very negative effects. >> guest: i don't understand the point. >> host: in other words i would rather not see drugs come into my community that is why -- >> guest: wait, wait, who would? that's not the point.
no one wants to see drugs come into their community wholesale and that would not happen. that is not what we want. that is not what i'm arguing. >> host: use it in terms of social policy. in terms of social policy issued and be directed at poor black -- what i'm saying is they can more easily be destabilized when you get drug dealers trying to plant their flag in those communities and they become the most prominent personality. >> guest: wait a second. first of all if you make sure that people have jobs and people have meaningful employment, education, drug dealers are not the most prominent people in the community. >> host: but what i'm saying is if you go into poor black neighborhoods yes there is a dearth of jobs and an absence of educational and economic opportunity. that is a fact that then you introduce drugs and that can hold the deal up. >> guest: i think that is your cited that the wages
characterized it. on the one hand first of all when you say crackhouses and drug houses we still have to do our jobs as police officers and we select to do that sort of stuff. you make sure that people are not breaking the law. you still do that but the consequences of catching people shouldn't be so dire that their lives are ruined as a result. you want to make sure for example all of this undercover activity that we do with the police we don't need that. if you see a police officer you slow down as opposed to a police officer hiding where you never knew the person was hiding so you continue to speed. so you have to let the police do their job. that's number one in the make sure that people have an opportunity for meaningful employment. >> host: what i'm saying to you is if you are drug dealer and you are looking for a vulnerable population to exploit
to sell drugs too and you are looking for places where you can in fact establish dominance i would think that you would go to a vulnerable community, a poor community to do it. >> guest: this is a myth. >> host: that is what i wanted to hear. greg: jess i want to go to the poorest place i can go to. that's not how it works. we thought for example that these kids in the streets of d.c. and miami, my friends be included were making all this money. this notion that these kids are making money, they weren't making money. and this notion that somehow they are the most appealing folks in the community. they are only appealing if there is no other alternative that are more attractive. >> host: true but i didn't get your point because as i said to you that comes back to then why they choose those communities because they can suddenly be the
superhero and the one who has the most money and the one with the sneakers. >> guest: you didn't get my point. my point is those communities don't have money so drug dealers cannot -- communities having money. >> host: the drug dealers in fact can develop markets among people who are former rebel and needy and feeling as if they are they're left out by larger society and marginalized and they are looking for something. >> guest: i assure you there are white folks coming to those communities to buy drugs if the drug dealers are going to survive because they can't -- >> host: so i could come there and provide the drugs. >> guest: you don't need the drive-by shootings, the drug dealer rivalry is playing out in affluent white communities even though there is tremendous drug use in those affluent white communities. >> guest: in the early 1980s you certainly did have that.
>> host: in the white community's? >> guest: certainly it extended down the black communities in the 1980s. you raise the scarface example. >> host: what i'm saying in general i think most of these incidents and the shootings of rivalries among drug rivals take place in poor black neighborhoods. >> guest: they certainly do. that is what happened with crack-cocaine. new markets, that settles down and this settles down and you don't see this sort of thing anymore. you certainly don't see this sort of thing anymore but i think that's a minor issue. i don't, i certainly don't want to downplay the fact that people are killed and obviously that is awful. but i think that has been the sole sort of point or one of the major points driving what we do with drug policy. i think it's short-sighted and limited.