Amsterdam to ban smoking cannabis in streets of red light district in new restrictions to curb anti-social behaviour

10 February 2023, 18:07

Amsterdam is set to ban smoking cannabis in public in the streets of its famous red light district amid complaints from local residents about the impact of tourists on the area.
Amsterdam is set to ban smoking cannabis in public in the streets of its famous red light district amid complaints from local residents about the impact of tourists on the area. Picture: Getty

By Chris Samuel

Amsterdam is set to ban smoking cannabis in public in the streets of its famous red light district among other restrictions, amid complaints from local residents about the impact of tourists on the area.

The area attracts millions of visitors each year, and is famous internationally for its coffee bars, sex shows, and brothels.

But on Thursday the city announced plans to roll out new restrictions to make it more livable, following years of complaints from residents over the affects of mass tourism and the anti-social behaviour of visitors.

The crackdown will see restaurants and brothels shut earlier on weekends, and smoking cannabis on the s banned on the streets.

Under the new rules, which are set to come into effect in mid-May, restaurants and bars that can currently open until 3am or 4am will be forced to shut at 2am on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Brothels can currently run until 6am, but will have to close at 3am.

“No new visitors” will be permitted to enter the old city area of the Dutch city after 1am.

A statement on the Government of Amsterdam’s website says: “These proposed measures in the Red Light District should further counteract the enormous nuisance, especially at night.

A join in an ashtray at the Coffeeshop in Amsterdam's Red Light District on December 10, 2022.
A join in an ashtray at the Coffeeshop in Amsterdam's Red Light District on December 10, 2022. Picture: Getty

“Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the streets,” it added.

“Tourists also attract street dealers who in turn cause crime and insecurity. Especially at night the atmosphere can get grim.

“People who are under the influence hang around for a long time. Residents cannot sleep well and the neighborhood becomes unsafe and unlivable.

“A smoking ban on the street should reduce nuisance. We are also looking at a pick-up ban at certain times for soft drugs.

Night view of Red Light District on December 9, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Night view of Red Light District on December 9, 2022 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Picture: Getty

“If the nuisance does not decrease enough, we will investigate whether we can ban smoking on terraces at coffee shops.”

According to Dutch media, the majority of the city council supports the new measures which will enter a four-week consultation period.

The sale of alcohol is already banned in the red light district from 4pm between Thursday and Sunday, but the new measures will see alcohol screened off or removed from display when the sales ban is in effect.

From spring officials are set to launch a "stay away" campaign which aims at discouraging tourists planning to take a "holiday from their morals", local media reported.

People walks near of red Light inside the Red Light District on December 10, 2022.
People walks near of red Light inside the Red Light District on December 10, 2022. Picture: Getty

Diederik Boomsma, leader of the local Christian Democrats, told Dutch News: "We have been proposing to ban smoking cannabis in public spaces for years."

He added: "Some days you can't even walk around the centre without breathing in the persistent stench of cannabis fumes, with glassy-eyed tourist zombies staggering about. That has to stop."

It is against the law to possess, sell or produce drugs in the Netherlands.

But the country “tolerates” the sale of soft drugs in so-called coffee shops. In these establishments, cannabis may be sold subject to certain conditions.

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