Nov 112010
 November 11, 2010

I received this from the Marijuana Policy Project. It’s not every day that legalization gets this type of endorsement! Here is the e-mail:

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.

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • malcolm kyle

    While bullets fly into El Paso, bodies pile up in the streets of Juarez, and thugs with gold-plated AK-47s and albino tiger pens are beheading federal officials and dissolving their torsos in vats of acid, here are some facts concerning the peaceful situation in Holland. –Please save a copy and use it as a reference when debating prohibitionists who claim the exact opposite concerning reality as presented here below:

    Cannabis-coffee-shops are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

    A poll taken earlier this year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.
    http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2010/02/public_split_on_cannabis_legal.php

    It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly marijuana-tourists and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. Public nuisance problems with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

    While it is true that lifetime and past-month use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

    According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
    In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15 to 24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

    The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

    In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

    Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 — roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.
    thttp://www.alternet.org/drugs/90295/

    In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. That’s drugs, he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

    Here is a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing Drug Czar misinformation
    http://tinyurl.com/247a8mp

    Now let’s look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

    The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

    Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy
    http://www.mapinc.org/lib/limited.pdf

    Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

    The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its so called successful drug policy.

    Here’s Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lExNjEhdSkY&feature=related

    The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.
    http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/free-heroin-brings-everyone-a-bit-peace

    The Dutch justice ministry announced, last year, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There’s simply not enough criminals
    http://www.nrc.nl/international/article2246821.ece/Netherlands_to_close_prisons_for_lack_of_criminals

    For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/faq-soft-drugs-netherlands
    or go to this page: http://www.rnw.nl/english/dossier/Soft-drugs

  • http://www.bydavidklein.com David Klein

    A judge with sense! Law enforcement spends far too many resources unjustly targeting the modest, recreational user of marijuana, often with dire consequences for good citizens. For a dramatic and page-turning look at this issue, check out the novel STASH published by Random House at http://www.bydavidklein.com.