To learn what drugs really do, Hart advertises for drug users on Craigslist, and then, with government approval, he gives users drugs at his lab at Columbia. He's discovered that drug users' brains react in similar ways to the brains of alcohol consumers.
"The vast majority of people who use drugs like cocaine use it on weekends, monthly or every six months," says Hart. "Most hold jobs. Pay taxes. They do those things, in a similar way that we use drugs like alcohol."
Government's anti-drug crusaders think they protect kids by hyping the threat, but Hart says they actually make it harder for people like him to educate the public about real dangers. After the hype over marijuana, young people no longer trust warnings about other drugs.
Finally, he adds, politicians' futile war kills more people than the forbidden substances themselves.
The gangs of today, like the Crips and the Bloods, are motivated by the absurd profits created when legitimate businesses aren't allowed to sell something -- just as Al Capone's empire and the violence of his turf wars were created by forbidding mainstream businesses to sell alcohol.
In fact, Hart says, the drug war is worse than Prohibition. It costs more, has lasted longer and doesn't just kill people in the U.S.: From Afghanistan to Colombia, American helicopters try to destroy drug crops. Foreigners gain one more reason to hate Yankees.
Arrogant and ignorant politicians do more harm than the social problems themselves.