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
THE PROF'S PUFFS
(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
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
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
"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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