Amsterdam to ban cannabis in its red light district

The red light district in Amsterdam (iStock/Getty Images)
The red light district in Amsterdam (iStock/Getty Images)

It will soon be illegal to smoke cannabis in Amsterdam’s red light district.

The new regulations unveiled in the Dutch capital will come into effect from mid-May. It is hoped the measures will make living in the city more hospitable to residents who have long bemoaned tourists’ anti-social behaviour.

As well as banning use of cannabis on the street – a popular attraction for tourists visiting the city – sex workers will need to close their venues by 3am.

According to local media, almost all councillors supported taking action to combat the disruption caused by visitors.

Restaurants and bars will also be forced to shut their doors by 2am on Fridays and Saturdays, while no new visitors would be allowed into the district after 1am, the city council announced on Thursday.

At present, alcohol sales in the district are illegal from Thursday to Sunday after 4pm.

From May, vendors will need to remove alcohol from their shopfronts entirely at that time or hide them from the view of customers.

It is illegal to consume alcohol in the majority of public spaces across the city.

Amsterdam is renowned for its cannabis cafes – known as coffee shops – and attracts millions of tourists a year.

It is illegal to possess, produce or deal drugs in the Netherlands. But there is a “toleration policy” that allows coffee shops to sell cannabis under strict conditions. One of those conditions is that coffee shops must not cause any nuisance.

Amsterdam council will also launch a “stay away” campaign in the spring to target tourists travelling to the capital for drugs, alcohol and sex purposes.

Diederik Boomsma, leader of the local Christian Democrat party, welcomed the new measures.

“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,” he told DutchNews.

“That has to stop. (Our) message to tourists: ‘Welcome! But if you’re coming just to snort, swallow or smoke drugs: don’t’.”