Conor Friedersdorf has a delightful retort to David Frum’s nonsensical article that we discussed here.
Conor takes apart Frum’s seeming need for simple social rules like “Just Say No,” and points out that the Project SAM approach isn’t about simplicity at all.
There are several problems with his argument.
1) Most obviously, under every proposal for legalizing marijuana it would remain illegal for minors, and perhaps for adults up to age 21. Parents won’t be deprived of the ability to say, “Marijuana is illegal, stay away,” until their adolescents are in college or living in an apartment and working.
2) Legalization advocates actually favor the simpler policy apparatus: everyone understands that you can vote at 18 and that you can drink at 21. Making marijuana legal for all adults, or all people 21 or older, is about as simple as it gets, and its laughable to compare a standard age rule to zero-down-adjustable-rate mortgages or the complexity of an open sexual relationship.
3) Using illegality as a heuristic for “most dangerous” is itself going to turn out badly for some people who aren’t very smart. Marijuana abuse isn’t anything to take lightly, but the substance is less dangerous than alcohol in many ways, less dangerous than huffing paint, less dangerous than lots of prescription drugs, and less dangerous than hang gliding.