HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Rolling Stone Article Irks Local Leaders
Pubdate: Fri, 28 Oct 2005
Source: Nelson Daily News (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 Nelson Daily News
Author: Darren Davidson, staff writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Press From Pot: City's Top Cop Says Article Could Draw ' Wrong Demographic
For Wrong Reasons'

Nelson community leaders and law enforcement officials aren't
particularly pleased with the way the city's been portrayed by Rolling
Stone magazine.

But some are leaning towards the "any press is good press" analogy in
a bid to put a more positive spin on a story that implicates the
Heritage City region as the source for millions of dollars worth of
marijuana trafficked by a young gang of smugglers based out of Coeur
D'Alene Idaho.  The gang reportedly trafficked $38-million worth of
pot before they were arrested and jailed.

"I think it's a tragic story, in a couple of senses," says Nelson City
Police chief Dan Maluta.

"It closes by glorifying what happened with these kids, how they
became overnight millionaires before they were incarcerated and wasted
their lives.  I also think it's tragic because it brings more infamy
to Nelson than fame.  I don't think we generally want to be known for

The city's top cop says he doubts $38-million of marijuana came from
the City of Nelson itself.  The marijuana trade is a "B.C.-wide
phenomenon," says Maluta, who says he was not familiar with the Coeur
D'Alene case.  There were no arrests made in Canada.

In his article entitled "The Tale of Kid Cannabis", Rolling Stone
contributing editor Mark Binelli writes: "Rumour had it that the town
of Nelson had become a sort of hippie Shangri-La, a place where if you
took more than ten minutes to find someone to sell you a dime bag,
there was a good chance you were already high."

The salacious tale and Binelli's punchy style speak to Rolling Stone's
target market.  Sixty per cent of the magazine's 1.3 million readers
are men, 63 per cent between the ages of 18 and 34.  Its website,, bills the title as "The Voice of Youth Culture," a
cultural icon and the U.S.'s number one pop culture reference point
for 12.2 million young adults."

Maluta says considering the number of young Americans who party and
holiday in Nelson, especially students from the numerous big U.S.
universities within a day's drive of town, he's concerned the Rolling
Stone article "will draw the wrong demographic" here, "for the wrong

"I'm not saying all youth who smoke pot are hardened criminals," says
the NCP Chief, "not in the slightest."

"However, generally speaking, people who are willing to break the law
on one front are willing to break the law or bend the rules on another

Binelli described Baker Street's Holy Smoke Culture Shop, with its
outdoor portrait of reggae legend Peter Tosh "large enough to rival
Soviet-era portraits of Lenin," as "a second City Hall."

"Hikers, snowboarders and potheads come to Nelson from all over the
continent to openly smoke weed and buy various strains of B.C. Bud,"
Binelli penned.

Like Maluta, Mayor Dave Elliott stresses that the marijuana trade is a
nation-wide problem.  But the mayor admits the article could make
Nelson sound like the centre of the illegal pot industry, "if you read
it that way."

"I don't think it shines a very good light on us," adds city
councillor and mayoral candidate John Dooley.  "What worries me is the
social impact, rather than the reputation the city's going to get out
of it.  A lot of younger people are getting involved with this."

"While it's concerning for Nelson to be mentioned in a story such this
- - such a sad story of young lives making wrong choices and ending up
in jail - Nelson has such a positive image, world-wide, it does not
define us," says mayoral candidate Marianne Bond.  "What defines us is
so much more - so many rich and positive things - we just need to keep
focused on those."

Binelli suggests the city's reputation as a liberal-minded community
puts it on the map.

"When I tell people about Nelson, they can't believe there's even a
place like it anywhere in the word," he told the NDN from New York,
earlier this week.  "They want to go there."

With that image in mind, the writer feels the story sheds a positive
light on the city.

"Maybe not in the way that the chamber of commerce would like to see,
but..." he laughs.

"I think it's unfortunate that that kind of stuff usually overshadows
so much of the positives we do have to offer as a community," says
Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce president Russell Stocks.

"People may stay away because of the picture [the article]

Asked if the city's counter-culture image might be viewed as a tourist
draw, likened to similar images of international tourist destinations
like San Francisco and Amsterdam, some say it just might.

"It may," Stocks admits.

"But I don't think that's what we want to portray.  We've got a great
arts and culture city.  That's where we need to shine."

"It's often been said that any kind of publicity is good publicity,"
Elliott adds.

"This story certainly wasn't negative.   It simply said there are some
people in the region [who are in the drug trade].  I think all
publicity can in some ways be positive.  I certainly wouldn't want to
encourage more of this, but overall it's not hugely negative."

Elliott says the region has had a marijuana-friendly reputation for
many, many years.

"It's underground, it doesn't cause us huge problems.  And it's a
reality of society these days.  Pot is a lesser evil, when you
consider crystal meth and cocaine and heroin.  Those things really
worry me."

On the city's infamous trade and its ensuing press, Stocks adds: You
dance with the devil, and you're going to get burnt."
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