TOURISTS MELLOW ABOUT CITY'S DRUG SCENE
Roll out the marijuana-green carpet and the tourists will come, says
pot activist David Malmo-Levine.
"It hasn't hurt Holland's tourist industry for the past 30 years one
bit," he said yesterday after he and two dozen others concluded a
walking and pot-smoking tour of the city, highlighting the history of
the drug war in Vancouver.
His comments followed warnings from Tourism Vancouver and the
Vancouver Board of Trade that the city is quickly losing its
reputation as a tourist-safe haven because of open drug use, petty
crime, homelessness and panhandling.
When it comes to marijuana, Malmo-Levine said most tourists simply
don't give a puff.
Wreathed in pungent pot smoke at the New Amsterdam Cafe on West
Hastings, Dennis Stephens, 51, from Las Vegas couldn't have agreed
"I think you should have locations [to smoke marijuana] closer to the
airport," he exhaled, adding that an American TV report highlighting
the city's relatively liberal attitude toward pot is what attracted
him here for a fishing vacation with his son Charles in the first place.
Across the table, 26-year-old Charles was smoking a joint of his own
and vowed to tell his friends back home in Vegas to get to Vancouver
and sample B.C. bud.
"I look at it as a place you can come, relax without fears of the
police," Charles said.
That attitude is a "concern" to U.S. Consul-General Luis Arreaga.
"We do not condone American citizens engaging in unlawful practices in
another country," said Vancouver-based Arreaga.
Outside the New Amsterdam Cafe, British tourist Roy Sands was not
aware of Vancouver's pot-friendly reputation and said it wouldn't have
altered his travel plans if he'd known about places like New Amsterdam
and Da Kine on Commercial Drive.
"We don't have to [smoke] it. It's not compulsory, is it?" the 61-year-old
Da Kine's future may soon go up in smoke. Solicitor-General Rich
Coleman said yesterday that the cafe's alleged selling of marijuana is
a major concern.
"You've got people driving into a neighbourhood, buying marijuana,
smoking it and driving away in their cars . . . That, to me, is
unacceptable," he said.
The city will decide what to
do with Da Kine's business licence at a
hearing next Wednesday.
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