Visitors, and locals, to Amsterdam, will no longer be able to smoke marijuana on the streets of the city’s famed Red Light District.
The Municipality of Amsterdam on Thursday effectively banned smoking marijuana on the street in the Red Light District, a move it says will help reduce nuisance in the area.
“Residents of the old city center experience a lot of nuisance from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse on the street,” is said.
“Tourists also attract street dealers, who in turn promote criminality and insecurity. Especially at night, the atmosphere can become grim. People who are under the influence also stick around longer.”
Visitors will still be able to use marijuana at coffee shops’ outdoor seating areas, but they will no longer be able to use it outside of those designated areas.
At the same time, the city is moving to continue to discourage sales of alcohol at some times during the week. While alcohol sales are already banned after 4 p.m. on Thursday to Sunday, the city is now requiring alcohol to be out of sight in stores during those same hours.
Both of those new rules start in mid-May.
In recent years Amsterdam has tried to balance tourists coming to the city with the needs and wants of its locals, and the potential for overcrowding. The city regularly experienced upwards of 20 million annual tourists, making it one of the most popular destinations in Europe, and stretching its tourism infrastructure enough to motivate local politicians to launch a “Stay Away” campaign at the end of last year.
In 2021, Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema proposed restricting coffee shops only to residents once the city reopens post-pandemic, something that the mayor said would make the city’s tourism more manageable (Amsterdam was considering the same policy in February 2020, prior to COVID-19’s impact, to help deal with overcrowding), limit “drug tourism” to the city, and make it easier to control the coffee shop supply chain in the city.
In 2018, Amsterdam also moved to ban tours of the Red Light District, including bar crawls in the area, because crowds were not considered “respectful” towards the area’s sex workers.