The waiting area of the Brooklyn Family Courthouse isn’t where you’d expect to find a Columbia University neuroscientist. But Carl Hart isn’t your average professor.
His credentials are sterling: Hart has studied addiction and the brain for the last 25 years. He has tenure in Columbia's Psychology Department. He's on the National Advisory Council for Drug Abuse. His book, High Price, questions the War on Drugs. But his insistence on using lab research to advocate for changes in how drugs are dealt with in courts like this one is what makes him stand out.
“Drugs are not as dangerous as we have made them out to be,” Hart says. “I'm trying to get people to use the data, the empirical evidence, and when you do that, you realize that we have been lied to, the public has been lied to.”
Professor Hart has been taking the stand and submitting written testimony in family courtrooms around the city, advocating for children to stay with their parents, even if their parents have tested positive for using marijuana.
Hart says the belief that casual marijuana use impairs your parenting has no scientific basis — and pot use that isn’t excessive is on par with having a drink now and again: “We don’t remove children because their parents drink alcohol,” Hart points out. “My kids would be removed if that was the case.”