Last weekend to legally smoke cannabis outside in the Red Light District
Starting on May 25, residents and tourists will no longer be allowed to use soft drugs while outdoors in De Wallen, the portion of Amsterdam's old city center that includes the Red Light District. Smoking cannabis on the terrace of a coffeeshop remains allowed.
The plan was formally approved on May 10 by a majority of the full city council, with only BIJ1 and Forum voor Democratie voting against the measure. BIJ1 proposed granting an exemption for Amsterdam residents, but could not garner support from any other political party for the motion.
The plan to forbid people from smoking cannabis in the old city center of the capital was announced by the municipality in February. The ban is a development from a larger package of measures adopted by the full city council last December to combat the crowds, noise complaints, and general nuisance in the Red Light District. This includes the earlier closing times for windows used by sex workers, and broader limits on alcohol sales.
"Residents of the old city center are structurally and excessively bothered by the crowds and nuisance caused by mass tourism and substance abuse in the public space," the city claimed. The problems make it hard for residents to sleep at night, reduce their quality of life, and are a detriment to the "safety of the entire neighborhood."
The ban is included in the APV, the collection of city ordinances. However, the enforcement approach will primarily involve informing people if they are found smoking on the street. Persistent violators will first receive a warning, followed by a fine of 100 euros if they contunie.
The municipality said that special signs will be placed in the area to inform people about the ban. On nights out, city street hosts will also be present in the area to remind people of the ban.
Mayor Femke Halsema and the coalition of aldermen who lead the city will also investigate if they can also ban people from collecting soft drugs at businesses in De Wallen. This restriction could be put in place between 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. from Thursday through Sunday.
The measure could go even further. "If the nuisance does not decrease sufficiently with the smoking ban, the possibilities of banning smoking on terraces at coffee shops in the area will also be examined," the city warned.