In conversation with Kasia Malinowska, director of the Open Society Global Drug Policy Program, Carl Hart, one of the world’s foremost experts on drugs, argues that the greatest damage from drugs flows from their being illegal.

Dr. Hart is open about the fact that he uses drugs himself, in a happy balance with the rest of his full and productive life as a colleague, husband, father, and friend. In Drug Use for Grown-Ups, he draws on decades of research and his own personal experience to argue definitively that the criminalization and demonization of drug use—not drugs themselves—have been a tremendous scourge on America, not least in reinforcing enduring structural racism.

This conversation is the first in a series of ongoing panel discussions and events Open Society Foundations will host to spotlight the 50th anniversary of the unjust and racist “war on drugs,” initiated by President Richard Nixon. The United States has spent billions of dollars on expanding its criminal justice infrastructure to accommodate increasingly aggressive policing, encouraged other countries to adopt oppressive drug policies, and has devastated Black and brown communities, even as levels of drug dependence and overdose deaths have spiraled out of control. Join us in holding our leaders accountable and promoting drug policies guided by social justice, public health, and human rights.