U.S. federal appeals court Judge Juan Torruella told an audience in Puerto Rico on Tuesday that “the only realistic alternative” to America’s failed war on drugs is to experiment with legalization, “beginning with marijuana.”
Torruella, 77, made his comments at the University of Puerto Rico’s law school, where he was a guest speaker for an audience of about 70 people, including the law school’s dean, Puerto Rico’s secretary of health, and many students. Here are some of his comments, courtesy of El Nuevo Dia (via Google Translate):
The judge said the U.S. goal was "a Drug-Free America by 1998", or "drug free America for 1998, prompting many laughs from the audience. […]
"The only realistic alternative to the policy (drug) is currently experimenting with the legalization of at least some of these substances, beginning with marijuana," Torruella said.
"I do not see how we can avoid the conclusion that the war on drugs does not only lost time but for some time that loss has had a high human and material costs," said the veteran judge who gave the example of the increase of deaths associated with drug trafficking in Mexico when the U.S. authorities allegedly managed to reduce the traffic routes in the Caribbean. […]
He said New Zealanders and Americans are the most who smoke marijuana (42%) in the world, by far, and noted that in Holland, where consumption is legal, only 20% use it. [..]
The United States remains "the source of insatiable appetite that drives this industry," said the judge.
Torruella sits on the Boston-based First Circuit Court of Appeals. He was first nominated to be a federal judge by President Ford, and was elevated to the appeals court by President Reagan in 1984, according to the Associated Press.
According to El Nuevo Dia, Torruella cited a recent study by the Cato Institute, as well as “British studies” showing marijuana is less harmful than alcohol “and therefore should be legalized.”
This is the second time in less than a week that commonsense marijuana policy has been endorsed outside of the 50 United States. On Thursday, a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes was approved by the House of Representatives for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. Unfortunately, the bill isn’t expected to pass through the Commonwealth’s Senate, where five out of nine senators plan to vote against it.