David Frum's reefer madness

Daily Beast contributor David Frum thinks legalizing weed is a bad thing: "marijuana smoking is a sign of trouble, a warning to heed, a behavior to regret and deplore," and that "young Americans deserve better than to be led to a future shrouded in a drug-induced haze." (thanks, @milesobrien)


  1. From the article:  “For if there’s one thing on which we can all agree, it is that legalization will mean even more use by even more people.”

    What?!?  No we cannot agree on that.  Especially if you look at countries where marijuana is legal (or at least decriminalized) and see the usage rates are lower than the U.S.  I love the way he just throws that out there without evidence and even professes that everybody can agree on it, even if there were no evidence.

    1. Speaking very strictly he may technically be right in the short term. Legalization may lead some people who haven’t used it before to try it, which could produce a spike in “use”. And that’s assuming that even right now we have accurate figures on the amount of usage, which I realize is a very big assumption.

      So, yeah, if there’s one thing on which we really can all agree it should be that legalization doesn’t automatically mean more use by more people.

      1. But you also have to figure in the number of people who quit because it goes mainstream. “Yeah, I was into pot, but then it sold out.”

      2. The first weekend after legalization doesn’t count when you’re looking at effects on usage rates. :-)

    2. Whenever I talk with someone who think that drugs should remain illegal and they make this argument, I make sure to ask them whether they themselves would start using all those drugs if they became legal tomorrow. They invariably say “no”.

          1.  I at least know people who don’t smoke /now/ because it’s illegal, though most have had a few opportunities in the past and enjoyed it.

            I also know a couple who have never tried it for legal reasons and would probably give it a go, but I honestly doubt they’d become fans.

          2. How many do you know who smoke it specifically because it’s illegal?  Probably a fair number too.

            They might not put it that way exactly – for them, it’s what they can get without anyone checking their ID.  I know that was a major reason I smoked as much pot as I did in highschool, and drank as little as I did.

            In fact, that’s the only reasonable argument I can think of to keep it illegal – legalizing it will make it harder for minors to get, thus driving them toward more harmful drugs.

          3. I don’t know anyone who smokes it *because* it’s illegal.  I’m an adult.  That flavor of behavior is distinctly juvinile.  That said, everyone I’ve ever known to smoke did so *in spite* of it being illegal.

          4. That’s bad logic. It’s easy for young people to buy partially because it can be grown in your home. Making alcohol is a far more difficult, dangerous, and involved process. Having it be legal means a wider proliferation of home grows. The marijuana black market wouldn’t likely die entirely from legalization. It’d probably become even easier for underage people to get.

          5. @boingboing-f4d471fc05d47ca7747a0152747892c0:disqus  – making alcohol is trivially easy and quite safe – much easier than growing pot plants that actually produce potent bud, as I understand it (I’m a homebrewer, but not a homegrower).  As a bonus it’s legal, so there’s not even a risk of raids.

            One of the grocery store chains in my area carries cheap homebrew beer and wine kits.  The product isn’t amazingly good, but it’s a lot better than crappy cheap beer from the liquor store, and costs much less too.  They’re stupidly easy to use – open can, dump contents in food grade pail, add sugar, add water, add yeast, wait.

            The hardest thing about the whole process is that it involves getting bottles very clean, which may be too much like washing the dishes for some teens to handle.

          6.  Smoking it just because it’s legal (and has a $1200/mo. midi grow permit, and there’s an herbal reek bounty; maybe compliance to do) is going to have a different profile too. Lots of people are not going to make the transition to either a vegan diet to keep their lungs low in neoteny or a vaporizer…brush, and will think 1/4 the brownies are furry and terrible for no reason. Maybe Frum can paint legal rainbows for a week and write back to Beast.

        1. I know I do.  The reasons are usually related to the risk of losing a job, or perhaps custody of their children in cases of divorce.

        2. The social warping of the War on Some Drugs (part 72 of 935):

          1.  The more you have to lose, the more you fear anti-drug laws. 

          2.  As a result, overt drug use is inversely correlated with “achievement”. 

          3.  So users are losers.

           4.  Thus drugs must remain illegal. 

          Repeat as necessary…

    3. I think we can all agree that by decriminalization possession of MJ, there will be less persons in jail. I don’t agree that decriminalization will spike a rise in the use of MJ. Those who like the smoke will still smoke it and those who think it dumb or injurious to health will continue to refrain.

      1. Exactly.  There he is…

        David Frum hands out a harmful drug for us all to see.  What a hypocritical schmuck he is.

          1. It’s funny that dumbasses never consider that alcohol is by far the most common “gateway drug”. Oh, well… being a dumbass is what dumbasses do best, I suppose.

          2. Words to live by:

            Marijuana is the flame,
            Heroine is the fuse,
            LSD is the bomb.

            That’s kind of weird, though, I think.  He starts criticizing drugs, then ends up complimenting LSD.

            Make up your mind, Sgt. Friday!

          1. “Stoney and I would go over to Buckle’s and Puff would turn us on to a hot load of mescaline crumbled into a tumbler of ether with a float of Percocet jimmies. I’d wake up with blood on my ass… and then… we’d get high. Those were some goooood times.”

    1. Well, both ethanol and sex are significantly destructive behaviors for a somewhat-poorly-characterized subset of users, and good clean fun for most of the rest, so yeah, pretty much.

  2. The Daily Beast; what an intelligent, thoughtful site. Why just yesterday it featured a brilliant column that suggested one thing we could do to reduce the body count of mass shootings is teach children to rush the gunman.

    1. Come on it’s almost time for their 50 worst people of the year list. You can hang a years worth of tired mainstream thinkers and sold out advocates and whatever horrible idea’s Tina Brown is pushing on that and keep your edgy credibility.

      Never mind, I hope they put themselves on the list for having authors like this.

    2. Chris Hayes’ weekend show seems to find some very good guests from that site, so not everybody there is a total neocon hack like Frum. Michelle Goldberg, who I knew from her books before discovering her columns there, is quite good. 

      1. I should clarify that it redeems the Beast’s existance, not much of its other work.

        Of course Drum and Tomasky are often pretty good to have around, if for no other reason than to get better perspectives than Fox News v MSNBC.  Not always the most critical thinkers, but their columns do a lot of good in showing the difference between an author’s ideology and their  views on a subject.

  3. Oh sure, I was “led” into a drug-induced haze.  Of course, I had to be “led” to that seedy looking Rastafarian down in the park first, “led” over to the corner store for some Zig-Zags, Twinkies and a Gatorade, then gently “led” back to my couch so I could watch “Raging Bull” while some fiend blew smoke into my lungs.  Repeatedly.

  4. Another bucket of fresh bullshit brought to you by David Frum:  G.W. Bush lackey and jingoist who did all he could to spur the invasion of Iraq.  Maybe some of the blood on his hands is washing off and he’s looking for a re-application.  

  5. What I find rather baffling about Frum’s ‘analysis’ (if we can charitably call it that), is how he manages to more-or-less articulate the entire “Well, maybe people who are pretty fucked are often heavy drug users because drugs are cheaper and more readily available than any nontrivial chance of getting unfucked.” hypothesis and then just sort of ignores it in favor of the usual weed-destroyer-of-youth stuff.

    It’s doubly unimpressive because the notion of ‘self-medication’ is not exactly news in medical and sociological circles (which doesn’t mean that it deserves to be automatically treated as 100% fact in all cases; but does mean that there is a pretty solid alternative hypothesis to the ‘doing pot makes you a dropout pothead loser, which is why people who do pot are statistically losers’ theory).

    Why not write an article about the horrible statistics and blighted lives of the Paliperidone-fiends, who are enormously more likely than the population at large to endure hospitalization, crippling delusions and psychosis, homelessness, and other dire outcomes in their drug-induced haze?

    Or, in order to exclude chemistry entirely, how about an article on how legalizing ‘high status goods’ will probably have a disproportionate impact on those who can least afford it? Oh the humanity!

    There is certainly no reason to suspect that any drug worth using is harmless (if it were certainly harmless, it probably wouldn’t have an effect that made it worth using); but unless you make some token effort to disentangle which direction the causation is flowing, you might as well keep your mouth shut…

  6. Habitual marijuana users experience more difficulty with learning and schooling. They do worse at work, miss more workdays, and suffer more accidents. They have fewer friends and occupy lower rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

    Uh huh…

    1. One of the smartest, hardest working guys I know sells pot. He bogarts, though, so  he does have fewer friends than he probably could.

      1. It’s more like Disneyland. The untermenschen manage to get through the gate, so they’ve achieved a modest level-up. Once they make it to that level, their progress is stopped by the endless lines.

        People of somewhat greater means can buy a quasi level-up and get an express pass. They wave goodbye to the poor, unfortunate “line people” and move into… a different line.

        The top level can get private tours and ride the coaster all alone, but it’s hard for them to keep their urine jars and Kleenex box shoes bacteria-free in a negative-G loop.

        The analogy breaks down at this point, however, as someone in a wheelchair or a kid with progeria can rocket up to the top. I’ve rarely heard of an oil company rolling paraplegics past a queue of freshly coiffed MBAs into the corner office. Maybe it’s like chemtrails and spontaneous human combustion; totally legitimate stuff that the mainstream media is afraid to report. And Morgellon’s disease. And mind control dentures.

  7. This from the guy who endorsed Romney and actually thought he could win. People actually pay him for his opinions?

    1. This from the guy who endorsed Romney and actually thought he could win.

      A well-known side effect of oxycontin is confusion; Especially if you mix it with alcohol.

  8. Yep. Keep those kids on the high fructose corn syrup infested foods.
    They may become obese health-scares and die younger but at least their sugar-addled brains wont be affected by the deleterious effects of what we can all surely agree is a ‘different kind of drug’.

    1. You just compelled me to do a quick wiki: how did such a wonderful woman and journalist have children who became (not quite ‘grew up to be’) conservatives? 

  9. Somehow I doubt sending a kid experimenting with marijuana to jail and then to suffer an entire life of denied opportunities because of their criminal record is a better, more humane thing to do than legalizing the drug and letting people learn to be responsible for its use on their own.

    1. I think he’s talking about forgetting the jail (it’s expensive) and upping the consequences in order to force people into changing their behavior.  Like any good crusader he says it’s for their own good but I can really see it being even more cruel than what we have now.

  10. Hitting oneself on the head with a hammer and smoking MJ are both harmful practices, the hammer causes direct injuries to the head while the MJ causes changes to the airways eventually lung cancer or if you are lucky only chronic bronchitis or emphysema.  But why make these idiotic practices criminal? It doesn’t take much for an idiot to harm himself.

  11. Of course smoking MJ damages the respitory system to eventually cause the damages described in my post. Studies also show that if smoked before the frontal lobes are compelled, permanent mental impairment can result. But, these are not reasons to make smoking MJ illegal; they are only reasons to not smoke MJ. But then, I’m not here to convince you, only to warn you.

  12. “someone who smokes marijuana every day may be functioning at a suboptimal intellectual level all of the time”
    I’m not going to argue that by smoking it every day you don’t live under the residual effects of cannabis, but to imply that his sober intellectual level is superior to my currently stoned mind is laughable. The drivel he is spreading should be illegalised.

  13. “young Americans deserve better than to be led to a future shrouded in a drug-induced haze.”

    If what we deserve is Republicans, give me the drugs.

    Oh god! Right now!

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