Civil Liberties

David Frum Joins Board of Anti-Marijuana Legalization Group He Promoted in Newsweek Column


On Dec. 17, Newsweek published an anti-marijuana column from David Frum in which the Republican pundit praised former Office of National Drug Control Strategy staffer Kevin Sabet for "forming a new group to find a third way" for U.S. drug policy. "[Sabet] deserves support," Frum wrote, "because young Americans deserve better than to be led to a future shrouded in a drug-induced haze."

We didn't know the name of the group at that time, but we do now: It's called Project SAM, which stands for "Smart Approaches to Marijuana." According to an Associated Press report that ran yesterday, Frum is on the group's board of directors. 

Considering Frum's endorsement of Sabet's work, and his own opposition to liberalizing America's drug laws, you'd think he would've announced by now that he's going to be a board member (along with Sabet) of a new anti-pot group being headed up by former Congressman Patrick Kennedy: 

Kennedy, 45, a Democrat and younger son of the late "Lion of the Senate" Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, is leading a group called Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) that opposes legalization and seeks to rise above America's culture war over pot with its images of long-haired hippies battling law-and-order conservatives.

Conservative political commentator David Frum, a speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, is also a board member on Project SAM, which lends it a bipartisan flavor.

In an email, Sabet, who's risen to prominence as an anti-marijuana pundit since the election, confirmed that Project SAM was the group Frum wrote about in his column, but said that he had not been offered a role on the board at the time his column was published. 

Personally, I don't think it's problematic that Frum is on Project SAM's board, because I don't think it's problematic for journalists to have opinions. I do think it's interesting that a guy who so frequently accuses people he disagrees with of duplicity has yet to tell his readers about his new role in the drug war. 

UPDATE: Frum announced his involvement with the group in a column for CNN this morning: 

Last week, I joined the board of a new organization to oppose marijuana legalization: Smart Approaches to Marijuana. The group is headed by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy and includes Kevin Sabet, a veteran of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Obama.

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. But what we do want to do is send a clear message: Marijuana use is a bad choice.