Cannabis Ban in Amsterdam Focuses on Red Light District

If you’ve dreamed of smoking cannabis while walking through Amsterdam’s Red Light District, better book that trip before May. A new set of laws to help alleviate noise and pedestrian traffic include a cannabis ban in Amsterdam that makes smoking marijuana outside illegal.

The change in laws by the Amsterdam City Council will go into effect in May 2023. The council came up with the changes in response to local residents who have complained about noise and tourist overcrowding. While the council’s action will change how businesses are run in the Red Light District, it falls short of the ban on cannabis sales to tourists that some locals wanted.

A statement from the city council put it succinctly: “From mid-May it is no longer allowed to smoke on the street in the old city center of Amsterdam. This should reduce the nuisance caused by drug use in public spaces, particularly by tourists and day trippers.”

Cannabis Ban in Amsterdam Seeks to Help Local Residents

The outdoor cannabis ban in Amsterdam is part of a package of laws that the city council passed to meet the demands of people who live in the popular old city area of Amsterdam. In the statement, the council said that residents in the area are “structurally and excessively bothered” by the crowds caused by mass tourism and using cannabis in public spaces.

By banning the use of cannabis outside, Amsterdam’s law is in line with what states in the U.S. have done. Outside of cannabis cafes or hotels that allow cannabis use, people cannot smoke cannabis in public places even in states and cities where it is legal for recreational use.

Cafes sells cannabis in the old city and prostitution is legal in the Red Light District. The city council’s decision is meant to help combat crowds in the neighborhood that come “at the expense of the residents’ night’s rest and the quality of life and safety of the entire neighborhood.”

What the New Cannabis Ban in Amsterdam Does

In addition to making it illegal to use cannabis while outdoors, the new laws also make other changes that will impact Amsterdam businesses and tourists.

  • Tighten the restriction on alcohol sales in shops, cafeterias and liquor stores, which the city already prohibits after 4 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday. The measure will now apply indefinitely and require that alcoholic beverages must be shielded or removed from the shop at times when the alcohol sales ban applies.
  • Cafés, restaurants and sex establishments with catering permits must close their doors at 2 a.m.
  • Prostitution businesses can remain open until 3 a.m.
  • Alcohol-serving catering establishments cannot allow customers in after 1 am

The closing time restrictions are expected to go into effect on April 1. If the ban on smoking outside does not work, the city council said it will then consider the next step of banning smoking on terraces at coffee shops.

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