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  1. Alfa
    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
    more.

    "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
    asked.

    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.

    WHAT DO YOU THINK?

    Give us your comments by phone at 604-605-2029, e-mail at
    color=#0000ffprovletters@png.canwest.com or fax at 604-605-2099. Be sure to spell
    your first and last names and give your home town.

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