David Frum is looking for a benevolent prohibition genie to help raise his kids

David Frum’s latest — Marijuana use is too risky a choice — is probably his most bizarre yet.

I loved the fact that when I got to the article this morning, all I had to do was glance down at the comments and see all sorts of familiar commenters who hang out here properly taking it apart.

This disjointed mess is a perfect example of the intellectual void that exists within this so-called third way.

The new group rejects the “war on drugs” model. It agrees that we don’t want to lock people up for casual marijuana use — or even stigmatize them with an arrest record.

If they really support that, yet oppose legalization, the only thing that makes sense is that they favor alcohol-style prohibition, where it’s legal to consume, but not to sell. After all, that worked so well.

And yet, the reason given for keeping it illegal is to make it a use deterrent.

Yet as a parent of three, two exiting adolescence and one entering, I’ve found that the argument that makes the biggest impression is: “Marijuana is illegal. Stay away.” I think many other parents have found the same thing.

So there’s no coherent thought whatsoever.

And the fact that Frum wants the government to help him raise his kids is just pathetic. When they were younger, did he tell them that stoves were illegal to keep them from burning themselves?

He follows that paragraph with:

When we write social rules, we always need to consider: Who are we writing rules for? Some people can cope with complexity. Others need clarity. Some people will snap back from an early mistake. Others will never recover.

“Just say no” is an easy rule to follow. “It depends on individual risk factors, many of them unknowable in advance” — that rule is not so easy.

Wow. “When we write social rules,… who are we writing rules for?” That sends a chill down my spine.

And then this stupid notion that today’s prohibition is a simple rule, compared to regulated legalization, is pure idiocy. “Just say no”? Yeah, how did that work, David?

So far, I haven’t seen a shred of intelligent thought in the leadership of Project SAM. I certainly don’t want them writing social rules for me.

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63 Responses to David Frum is looking for a benevolent prohibition genie to help raise his kids

  1. Peter says:

    frum, sabet and kennedy. three snake-oil salesmen if ever i saw them

  2. darkcycle says:

    Me and Malcolm must have landed there right after it was posted. I left David this:
    “So, you plan to keep marijuana illegal, yet you don’t think people should be ARRESTED for it? That is VERY open minded of you to embrace the Dutch system.

    I see a problem or two if you plan to use the courts to try to force treatment under that rubric, though. Just for starters, how do you compel treatment without the threat of arrest and jail? If there’s no penalty for just walking away from the proffered treatment I see a great many addicts doing so. Okay, maybe you plan to re-name the crime they will be incarcerated under to “Treatment Non-compliance”. You DO realize that under the best of circumstances 70% of addiction patients will relapse, right? That means regardless of the success of this effort 70% or so of people sent to treatment will end up in jail anyway. Now we get to pay for their treatment AND their incarceration. Congratulations, you just found a way to make the drug war MORE expensive and wasteful than it already is.

    David, I know you think it’s going to be fun hanging around with Kevin Sabet. But I have to tell you that hanging around the loser crowd doesn’t help your future any, kid.”

    • Uncle Albert's Nephew says:

      They don’t want to throw us all in jail. They just want us all on lifetime probation. That building with the bars and barbed wire just LOOKS like a jail. It’s really a secure treatment center.

      • damaged justice says:

        I would say that they want to turn the entire world into a jail, where they and theirs are the wardens and guards.

    • Opiophiliac says:

      DC you’re a clinical psychologist, right (retired, if I’m not mistaken)? Maybe you have a different view but my thoughts are basically this:

      Beyond the cost of treatment, which people often state is cheaper than jail, there is the ethics of forced care. Even if jail is not mandated for “treatment failures,” economic sanctions could be used, like fines, loss of benefits or housing.

      I’ve been coerced into more than one treatment program in my days as an unrepentant “hard” drug user. In my experience coercing people into treatment leads to two circumstances:
      (1) People who do not need treatment are forced to get it. One IOP I went to had a gentleman who was a truck driver. He smoked one joint while on vacation and tested positive for THC when he came back. He was forced to complete a drug rehab program even though he clearly didn’t need it. The man didn’t even drink alcohol and hadn’t used any other drugs for more than 10 years (though he was a tobacco addict, an addiction that is ignored by both AA/NA and the whole treatment industry). This is unacceptable when there are people out there who want/need treatment and cannot get it. The waiting lists at methadone clinics can run for months, telling an opiate addict to wait a month when they have gotten desperate enough to succumb to the indignities of the clinic is a bit like telling a drowning man we’ll throw you a life preserver in a few weeks.

      (2) It seems to me that forcing someone to undergo medical treatment when they do not want it is a human rights violation. The one exception perhaps being when an individual is a risk to others (ie quarantine procedures and forced treatment for a highly contagious illness like bird flu or a typhoid Mary like situation). One would think therapy requires a certain degree of mutual trust. If someone didn’t want to stop using drugs, how can we say you must go to therapy until your attitude changes. To me this is analogous to a homosexual forced to undergo “conversion therapy” until they are no longer gay. If the individual does not want to be there, they will simply lie to the therapist.

      People say addiction is a disease but its not treated like any other disease. Most people with a disease willingly seek out medical treatment, treatment is rarely forced. When the treatment fails, the blame is not put on the individual but on the treatment (ie cancer doesn’t respond to the chemo). When an addict “fails” at treatment, the blame is put on the addict.

      The ex-DEA admin Asa Hutchinson often uses an example in debates about a man he arrested who later thanked him for focing him to change his lifestyle. I’m sure you can find people forced into drug treatment who say the treatment saved their life. This does not make it any less wrong. From my perspective forcing me into a drug treatment program is only slightly better than a jail sentence (would I be a patient, a prisoner, or something in between?). The whole “treatment not jail” movement is some prohibitionist slight-of-hand to make the assault on the human rights of people who use drugs seem more humane. Drug users are still going to be persecuted for making a lifestyle choice which is no one else’s business. Calling this treatment is putting lipstick on a pig. No matter how pretty you make the pig, it’s still swine.

  3. DonDig says:

    He’s another uninformed spewer of advice who apparently thinks people are dumb enough to appreciate his baseless approach. Clueless, clueless, clueless!
    (Obviously he managed to find money supporting his approach.)

  4. N.T. Greene says:

    Woah, woah woah.

    Whose responsibility is it to write social rules?

  5. divadab says:

    Frum is a hack who is very well paid for his public relations writing for the prohibition industry and other authoritarian causes. How else can he afford to live the lifestyle of the urban knowledge worker without intelligence or talent?

    His late mother must be spinning in her grave to see what a sellout her son has become.

  6. The Goat says:

    Frum’s tangent into financial rules is purely nonsensical.

    As for the Kennedys…

    Joe Kennedy stood with the Canadian bootleggers.

    Patrick Kennedy stands with the Mexican cartels.

    Not much has changed. Both want to profit from Prohibition.

    • John says:

      Right, I’m sure most people like me just skimmed right thru that crap.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Canada didn’t have 60,000 murders because of America’s thirst for drinking alcohol. They just had a bunch of people getting regular paychecks, collected a couple of carloads of tax revenue, and saw a few of their citizens turned into billionaires after taxes.

  7. Outlier says:

    My first thought when I saw the article announcing the organization “Is that the best they can do?”. Kennedy a former pol who was irrelevant in office and has no real accomplishments to speak of other than being a Kennedy. Sabet, a former official in the low profile ONDCP who is only relevant from the mid afternoon cable appearances he makes every month or so. And David Frum who was excommunicated from the right for being right about the GOP’s scorched earth approach to health care. These are hardly heavyweights in the American political scene. If that’s all SAM could attract to be apart of the new face of prohibition, then change is happening faster than I thought.

    Meanwhile we just added Bill Clinton to the dozens of ex presidents who support reform. We are winning, they are having to play on our field, and we need to keep up the pressure at all levels.

  8. Dante says:


    Sadistic Authority Mavens

  9. Servetus says:

    Social essentialism is the belief that social categories mark fundamentally distinct kinds of people. Such divisions might include race, gender, or even people who choose to drink, smoke, or otherwise imbibe substances in some specific way.

    Well, recent research on this topic in Tel Aviv has just given us a peek inside the warped mind of the prohibitionist:

    New research suggests that racial stereotypes and creativity have more in common than we might think.
    In an article published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researcher Carmit Tadmor of Tel Aviv University and colleagues find that racial stereotyping and creative stagnation share a common mechanism: categorical thinking.

    “Although these two concepts concern very different outcomes, they both occur when people fixate on existing category information and conventional mindsets,” Tadmor and her colleagues write.

    The researchers examined whether there might be a causal relationship between racial essentialism — the view that racial groups possess underlying essences that represent deep-rooted, unalterable traits and abilities — and creativity.

    They hypothesized that, once activated, an essentialist mindset would lead to a reluctance to consider alternative perspectives, resulting in a generalized closed-mindedness.

    Sound like any prohibitionist we know?

    What Dr. Tadmor is saying is that the life-influences that make prohibitionists hate drug users so much are the same triggers that cause prohibitionists to lack creativity, always playing catch-up to crafty smugglers, and so forth. The theory would certainly explain differences in the general creative potential we see in Berkeley, or San Francisco, compared to say…Oklahoma, which sports some of the worst state drug laws on its books.

    Essentialism defines the playing field in drug enforcement. Under these circumstances, the prohibitionist is condemned to confront some very imaginative and inspired opponents who reject close-mindedness. As the opposing teams go, this could be one reason why Prohibition v. The People is the intellectual mismatch of the century.

    • John says:

      One area is a culturally vibrant port city and the other is a well-insulated region of the earth.

      • Servetus says:

        Yes, Oklahoma is insulated, with plenty of cotton between its ears. Oklahoma climate denier Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) represents the state. Enough said.

  10. darkcycle says:

    So, one question, Servetus. Why didn’t you go into psychology, rather than….uh…whatever it is you do? Nice thinking, and the best part is, it is a solid, testable hypothesis. Nice catch!

    • Servetus says:

      Thanks dc. I studied psychology as a kid growing up as a 60s radical, but then I decided drugs provided me with answers to questions I hadn’t asked yet.

      I still like reading psychology, but as you probably gather from my posts, I specialize in reading the history of tyranny, oppression and genocides; all part of an early attempt by me to pin down what inquisition historians refer to as the ‘inquisitorial mind’. I chose to understand it within the context of the drug war.

      As for what I do professionally, I’m a semi-retired applied physicist, published, patented, a former federal research grant recipient, specializing for the moment in custom research instrumentation that I provide to various academic scientists here and abroad. I scan the general science headlines every day, which is how I found Dr. Tadmor’s research paper.

      A dozen-or-so years ago I consulted for an NGO on a DoE contract where I commercialized an environmental technology that ultimately spared our earth’s environment millions of tons of additional, emitted, greenhouse gases. We beat the EPA deadline for a tech conversion by ten years. I feel good about that one every time I take a deep breath.

      Of course, to the typical prohibitionist, I’m just another stereotypical, indolent pothead pursuing a life of hedonistic self-destruction. Insults like these simply add to the reasons I devote time to ending the drug war, and tyranny in general.

      • darkcycle says:

        Uh, sounds like you put your native intelligence to good use. Me? I managed treatment centers and gave tests…and I’m a better than fair grant writer. But no physicist….Brian Greene makes my head explode (still read everything of his I can get a hold of though…). Just read an article about physicists acheiving temperatures colder than absolute zero on Huff post science, that has me utterly boggled.

  11. pfroehlich2004 says:

    The Times has deigned to allow comments on this marijuana article. Have at it fellows.


  12. Francis says:

    Yet as a parent of three, two exiting adolescence and one entering, I’ve found that the argument that makes the biggest impression is: “Marijuana is illegal. Stay away.”

    In other words, even your own kids think you’re full of it. Of course “marijuana is illegal” is your most effective “argument.” As you may have noticed, the competition isn’t exactly stiff. (Or do you not read your own columns?) I mean Christ, it’s literally the one truthful argument you have — and even it won’t be truthful for long.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Do children actually respond the way Mr. Frum speculates? If they do why does the U.S. have such a significantly higher rate of youth use than all of the western European first world which impose significantly lower, if any, penalties for choosing to enjoy cannabis? Shouldn’t a strategy be required to work rather than be such an easily documented, unmitigated failure?

      If tougher criminal penalties work why will none of the prohibasites deign to explain the 1960s? When Oregon became the first State to decriminalize the petty possession of cannabis in 1973 that law replaced a felony with a maximum of 5 years in prison. There were no States in the 1960s which didn’t treat petty possession of cannabis as a serious felony with serious terms in prison. So why in the world did the incidence of cannabis use expand by over 1000% in the 1960s if criminal penalties are such a useful deterrent?

      Somebody’s got some ‘splainin to do.

  13. Freeman says:

    What a fool I’ve been, warning the grandkids that the stove will burn them, when I could have much more effectively kept them safe by simply telling them it’s illegal for kids to go near stoves!

  14. N.T. Greene says:

    I repeat my “I don’t want the state doing my parenting” bit. Especially with lies. It turns out that children find the law contemptuous when it lies to them. I myself respect the laws worth following… it’s the ones that aren’t that are a source of worry.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      If the citizenry is to be expected to have respect for the law then the legal code must be limited to laws that are respectable.

      Yes that’s an aphorism. That it even needs to be uttered supports the assertion that we’ve stepped into The Twilight Zone.

  15. WatchinIsCrumble says:

    Please, oh please let Calvina be on it.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Highly intelligent people like Timothy Leary have had their heads removed, cryogenically frozen and shot into outer space to get away from the likes of that woman.

  16. Scott says:

    “I certainly don’t want them writing social rules for me.”

    Neither does the unalienable right to liberty, one of the truths to be held self-evident in the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

    The fact is there is no experimental science proving any harm in moderate cannabis use.

    Upon recognizing that fact, the consequent fact is there is no way to justify the obviously illegitimate power grab condemning the mere possession of the plant.

  17. claygooding says:

    Stay away from anyone that has this flu bug,,it’s a mf’er.

    I was taking Nyquil cold and flu and slept through most of it but it’s tuff.

    I see they plan on kicking off in Denver and after they are booed out of there that will probably go to WA for the second dose. I would bet they push for a DUI law in CO and a residency requirement,,anything to insure there will be illegal sales.

    Then they will begin hitting any states making legalization noises.

  18. Duncan20903 says:


    I’m stumped. Who except for a small percentage of the lunatic fringe is advocating re-legalizing cannabis for school children? Mr. Frum is currently able to warn his children that drinking alcohol is illegal for them.

    I swear there are days when I want to plant a crop and take it down to the elementary school and give it away for free when I hear the prohibasite clowns claim it should be illegal for me because of their children. “If I’m going to do the time, I may as well do the crime” is my motto.

  19. Liam says:

    Why Patrick Kennedy and Others in Recovery Should Support, Not Oppose Marijuana Legalization


  20. NorCalNative says:

    I’ve used David Frum as my right-wing source of information for a few years now. I almost always disagree with his writings but I always respected his opinion.


    Frum and his prohibitionist “just-say-no” b.s. has been asked to discuss a subject on which he knows NOTHING.

    Apparently, Knowing-Nothing is the highest qualification for this board. Frum go back to kicking Romney down the road because you’re really making yourself look stupid.

    Cannabis more risky than alcohol? Get real.

  21. darkcycle says:

    Drug Czar insists there is no drug war, claims drug USERS (not abusers, or addicts) need treatment, and otherwise just generally says a bunch of stuff that will make your head explode:
    HEY! Edit function is back….and it WORKS! Rockin’, Pete!

    • n.t. greene says:

      The resistance grows stronger.

    • Byddaf yn egluro: says:

      “But U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James ruled that the government, not the landlords, must move to evict Harborside for its alleged violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act.”

  22. Susan Soares says:

    I skimmed the Australian studies that he referred to. Someone smarter than me needs to take a look at them. At first glance, it looks like he is misrepresenting what the studies concluded.

    • Nunavut Tripper says:

      Anybody heard of this vaporizer study? Just wanted to know if it’s legit and not a fishing expedition for the prohibs.


      • Susan Soares says:

        I am suspect of a study that declares that your response will be anonymous when you take it online. Can’t they get your IP address if you respond?

        • Chris says:

          Seeing as you know what an IP address even is, you only need to take it one step further to learn how to protect your anonymity online: obfuscating the IP address of of whatever request you want to send out to the internet, and a way for the response to that request to get back to you without anyone inbetween being able to 1) see the unencrypted data and 2) decrypt the data. This requires having a trusted third party or many untrusted third parties make the actual request to their webserver for you. Additionally, public/private key encryption is solid technical implementation to achieving this anywhere. For practical uses, look up SSH tunnels, Tor or VPN access for more information.

      • darkcycle says:

        I took their survey. Looks legit, I’ll be awaiting their results.

  23. Peter says:

    Frum and co tend to focus on how the benevolent prohibition genie will treat its first time victims who “cooperate” and do their enforced “treatment.” They avoid going into too much detail about second convictions, though it seems pretty obvious that the SAM gang envisage some old style prohibition involving the usual arrests and criminal records for these. I wonder how Frum would react should this happening to one of his three children?

  24. darkcycle says:

    UGH!!! Read ONLY if you have a stomach for the medieval: Prohibitionist freaks in Siberia torture addicts (really I think they are getting only a certain KIND of addict…if ya know what I mean). http://www.alternet.org/weird-science-siberian-psychologists-caning-patients-buttocks-new-addiction-treatment

  25. strayan says:

    I’ve found that the argument that makes the biggest impression is: “Marijuana is illegal. Stay away.” I think many other parents have found the same thing.

    How does he dissuade his children from huffing gasoline?

    “Oh no it’s not illegal, what am I going to tell the kids!? I can’t think a single good reason that might convince them to ‘stay away’!

    • Duncan20903 says:

      I’m glad that someone remembers the untimely demise of Hi-Test.


      Anti-drug group backed by Cardinals wants to repeal Arizona’s medical marijuana law

      I thought the voters of Arizona had taught their legislature a lesson. Silly me.

      • Peter says:

        when i read the headline i thought those damned catholics moralizing again…

      • stlgonzo says:

        This is encouraging, because the Bidwells have never backed a winner.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          Now that’s just plain funny stlgonzo.

          IIRC this isn’t the first time that team has made a very loudly ballyhooed donation to promote the malignant narcissists’ agenda of keeping pot illegal by any means necessary. Didn’t they donate a wad of money to the enemies of freedom to help defeat the 2010 ballot initiative that caused Arizona to adopt their medicinal cannabis patient protection law?

          Would anyone like to speculate about the nationwide total numbers of ER visits that playing tackle football is the direct, proximate cause? How many of those are school children aping their so called “role models”?

          Then there’s concussions. Playing tackle football is a sport that’s known to cause lots of concussions. In extreme cases paralysis and even death because of a stupid, pointless game.

          How can people so worried about the well being of the children not agree that tackle football should be banned from our schools as well as a tackle free 1000 foot “buffer zone” because playing this pointless game hurts so many of those precious children?

          How many children end up with serious brain injuries because they consider the Arizona Cardinals and the other professional football players to be role models? How many paralyzed? How many dead children? Last but not least why the heck was the team so cheap that they couldn’t adopt a new nickname when they moved away from Chicago to St. Louis and then again to Arizona?

    • Susan Soares says:

      It’s also illegal to speed, to have gay sex, to cheat, etc…….I’m sure you can find that anything is illegal somewhere. I went to Australia once and they took my melatonin at customs. Guess what?! Melatonin is illegal there. Go figure.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Susan, the SCOTUS struck down consensual sodomy laws in Lawrence v State of Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003). “Gay” sex is no longer illegal.

        Gay gets quotes above because those laws made consensual sodomy illegal for everyone not just gay people. Also I’m using the codified legal definition of the word sodomy which includes oral sex. Like the legal definition of the word “narcotics” lawmaker defined words don’t necessarily stick to dictionary definitions.

  26. claygooding says:

    When Frum,Sabet and Kennedy trot out the rehab instead of incarceration fallacy I hope someone can nail them about what happens to the indigent and poor that are taken to court,,it is nothing more than more smoke and mirrors while minorities and poor people continue to fill our prisons.

    • stlgonzo says:

      Thats a point that cant be made enough.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        I hope everyone realizes that the advent of universal health care in the U.S. is going to start the dimwitted Know Nothings will demand urine tests and being “drug free” as a condition of being included. They’ve already demonstrated that they’ll let people who need organ transplants die for having the wrong metabolites in their urine so it really isn’t a farfetched prediction.

  27. stevo says:

    The new group Frum joined supposedly rejects the “war on drugs”, but they are big supporters of the war on freedom that prohibition represents. They have no leverage to impose their will on anyone without the threat of arrest (or actual arrest), yet he claims they don’t want to saddle casual users with a criminal record. How does that work? He says they just want to send a message that marijuana use is a poor choice. No one would object if that was truly the extent of their purpose, but if they go farther and punish anyone who disagrees, its not just a message, its a threat. All who love freedom should recoil.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Drug Courts are very much in favor among these people. Since they have very limited imaginations I’d speculate that’s the direction they want to steer policy. There’s also civil commitment to inpatient programs which won’t show up on a “criminal” record.

      Pay close attention to the words that they use and learn the definitions that they use. For instance Mr. Kerlikowske will rail against “smoked” medicine. He knows that the vast majority of the Ignorati aren’t aware that there are alternate methods of delivery. Practically all of the hysterical rhetoric about medicinal cannabis does use that distinction.

      In this case the talking about “criminal” records and I’ll wager dollars to dirt that in their minds a “criminal record” only includes convictions in a criminal court. 6 months in a drug rehab by way of civil commitment is actually worse for the victim than 6 months in jail. At least when you’re doing time they don’t play with your mind.

      The Know Nothings are in the habit of making assertions that are designed to cause people to infer the meaning that they want them to believe without actually saying what they want believed. Learn to parse their words because they certainly do.

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