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One of his major areas of research is a focus on the interactions between commonly abused drugs and the biological and environmental factors that impact human behavior and physiology.

For many people, Hart argued, it is the social and legal consequences of drug use that plague many, moreso than addiction, especially in the black community.

“More than 50 percent of the guys who I grew up with spent time in jail on some drug-related charge,” said Hart, who supports decriminalization of most drug use. “It’s always some minor trafficking or possession charge. It’s so normalized.”

Hart has even taken the stand and submitted written testimony in family court cases around New York City, advocating for children not to be taken from their parents, even if the adults tested positive for marijuana.

Not everyone agrees with Hart’s argument, including Dr. Herb Kleber, deputy drug czar under President George H.W. Bush and the man who hired Hart.

“I don’t think legalization is the answer,” he told WNYC. “We don’t want to lose a generation by making these drugs more readily available.”

Hart said he doesn’t support legalization and he has warned that many street drugs are cut with substances that are more dangerous than the drugs themselves.

He said he would rather see a drug policy that is steeped in solid scientific data than tactics that he said are designed primarily to scare people away from drug use.

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