March 7, 2002

Distinguished Harvard Law Prof. Speaks 
Openly About His Use of Marijuana & LSD

Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School is one of the country's leading authorities on evidence law and a maverick in encouraging his law students to go beyond status quo legal thinking, to challenge authority, and to fearlessly innovate. 

The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics applaud and support Prof. Nesson's honesty and bravery in challenging and resisting the archaic nature of drug prohibition laws that infringe on intellectual freedom and cognitive liberty.  

(c) Washington Post Tuesday March 5, 2002
By Lloyd Grove

Our old friend, the distinguished Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, is up to some new tricks. Nesson, otherwise known as "Billion-Dollar Charlie" because of his inclination to sue for vast sums, last appeared in the column for posting a nasty e-mail exchange between two law school colleagues on his evidence-class Web site.

His latest Internet posting is a real trip. It's an audiotape of his interview with the prestigious Harvard Law Record, in which Nesson brags that he has long used illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD, and occasionally before delivering lectures to his students, who -- not counting room and board -- pay $27,500 annually to hear Nesson's thoughts (in addition to the wisdom of his colleagues).

"I guess it would have been 1966 when I first smoked marijuana and then did LSD, like '69, something like that," Nesson is heard telling the Record's Owen Alterman. "Well, it came along with the period. I tried cocaine once and got nothing from it, and that was that. And I've tried ecstasy and amphetamines some in college. I remember Dexedrine got me through statistics. And that's basically it. I don't do any drugs now except marijuana."

The renowned legal scholar explained that he likes to have a puff or two of marijuana -- "that's all it takes, my boy" -- on his morning walks. On a morning before he teaches class, Alterman asked? "I don't do it on a morning before I have class," Nesson replied. Have you done ever it before class? Alterman pressed. "Yes, yes," Nesson replied.

Yesterday, we asked the professor to clarify.

"No, not immediately before class," Nesson told us. "When Owen asked me if it had ever had any effect on my classes, I responded that the things I think about naturally affect anything I do. I don't guarantee that nothing negative comes out."

Alterman's questions about Nesson's drug use were prompted, it seems, by an e-mail he sent his students from a recent trip to Jamaica. "Jamaican marijuana is at least to me of the same quality as Jamaican blue mountain coffee," he told Alterman. "Extraordinary. And very expressive of Jamaica."

As for this column, Nesson, 63, cautioned us not to be "snide or salacious or snickering. . . . I think that the serious question that this touches on is one of hypocrisy and how people deal with it, how law deals with it, how I deal with it." He refused to tell us where he gets the drugs.

"These kids come to me and there's probably not one of them who hasn't used a forged ID. Probably not one of them -- maybe not one or two -- who've never violated a drug law. But most of the kids I'm talking to are already schooled in illegal underage drinking and experimentation with small violations of law."

At this writing, Harvard Law School spokesman Michael Rodman said the law school "declined to comment," but we're still hoping for further guidance from the Harvard administration.

Until then, all we can say is: Groovy, baby! Yeah! 

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