Toronto Council backs Vienna Declaration on decriminalizing drugs — what does it mean for Paris Hilton?

Aug 29th, 2010 | By | Category: In Brief

Ms. Hilton and her current “nightclub-entrepreneur boyfriend” Cy Watts, “at the launch of her fragrance Tease at MyStudio in Hollywood on Aug. 10, 2010. Credit: Donald Traill, Associated Press.”

At first the news that Toronto City Council has just endorsed the “Vienna Declaration” (which “advocates harm reduction over the law enforcement-driven war on drugs”) — set beside the news that “Paris Hilton was arrested late Friday night on suspicion of possession of cocaine after police noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the SUV she was in on the Las Vegas Strip” —  seems rich in ironic juxtaposition (and maybe even “oxymoronism”?).

But then you start to wonder why a smart heiress like Ms. Hilton can’t find some way of doing drugs without getting caught so often throughout the global village. And then you think it must be that she wants to get caught, for the publicity.

Three weeks ago, eg, she attended the launch of her fragrance Tease at MyStudio in Hollywood. And then you read: “If convicted of the low-grade felony, Hilton would [only] get probation.” (Even though, theoretically: “Any violation of probation would be punishable by one to four years in Nevada state prison.”)

Ms. Hilton again — making a point at a hotel chain board meeting?

Reading Anna Mehler Paperny’s nice Globe and Mail piece, “Toronto formally endorses harm reduction on drug use … City becomes the first in the world to do so,” can also make you think that walking away from the “war-on-drugs” policy paradigm, as palpably absurd as it has become, is going to take some care, talent, and probably more time than some of us would like.

Even after City Council’s formal endorsement of the Vienna Declaration: “Toronto’s still mulling the possibility of a supervised consumption site … The city’s mayoral candidates are leery when it comes to committing to a supervised consumption site. George Smitherman, Sarah Thomson and Joe Pantalone said while they support harm-reduction strategies already in place in Toronto, they have their doubts the city needs a safe-injection site. Rocco Rossi’s campaign declined to comment … And front-runner Rob Ford was one of the few councillors who voted against the Vienna Declaration endorsement altogether.”

Ms. Hilton on her way to Lynwood Women's Correctional Facility in Southern California, a few years ago. Publicity can be a hard business sometimes?

But the Globe and Mail’s subsequent editorial, “The rising trend against the war on drugs … Evidence is mounting in favour of the decriminalization of drugs such as marijuana,” presents some compelling arguments and ends on a  strong and immediately practical note.

Despite the “mounting evidence” against war-on-drugs policies, Stephen Harper’s government in Ottawa “has made it clear that it will not support the Vienna Declaration and will countenance no change to this country’s hard-line National Anti-Drug Strategy and current federal drug policy.” The Globe and Mail argues instead that the “record suggests current federal government policy will not succeed in achieving any reduction of use, crime or harm. Canada, consequently, should resurrect the legislation to decriminalize marijuana and embark on a broader national discussion about policy on harder drugs, and the need for harm reduction in Canada.”

I certainly do not agree with Globe and Mail editorialists about everything myself. But I am as close to certain as I ever get that they are on to something eminently sensible here.

What would things be like for Paris Hilton, under a more rational drug regulatory regime of the sort the Globe and Mail appears to have in mind?  At first she might not like it so much. She would  have fewer opportunities for cheap publicity, through increasingly silly and tiresome (but hardly “criminal”) behaviour. If I were her, however, I would finally be a bit concerned about the prospect that some judge in Nevada (or wherever) just might be crazy enough to prescribe four years in jail for privileged young ladies who absent-mindedly violate probation, etc, etc, etc.

Rob Ford may not be a communist, but it seems that he is at least as much of a criminal as Paris Hilton.

(Even the right-wing Toronto mayoral candidate Rob Ford, who would seem to agree with Stephen Harper’s current federal minority government on drug policy, and other issues, was apparently once caught by the Florida police, driving under the influence — and with a joint in his pocket. He’s lucky he’s not running for mayor in … oh, say … some town in Alaska?)

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