Want to spark up a joint in the Old Town? Well, you’d better get on that quickly because from mid-May there will be a weed smoking ban in the area.
Of course, you can still light up in the comfort of your own home, but you won’t be allowed to smoke on the street. This new measure, amongst others, was announced on Thursday as Amsterdam’s mayor, Femke Halsema, aims to curb crime related to drugs and tourism in the area.
People have been coming to Amsterdam to visit the city’s famous coffee shops for many years now and this kind of tourism has long since been perceived as a problem by authorities. The Old Town has become known to many as the red light district, although the area has much more to offer than the brothels and coffee shops.
There is also interest in trying to ban the sale of weed products between 4 pm and 1 am in coffee shops, with the same aim of making the area safer. Pubs will not be allowed to admit customers after 1 am either.
Some will of course argue that this could cause a reduction in tourism to the area, but the city argues that:
‘Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the streets […] Tourists also attract street dealers, who in turn cause crime and insecurity.’
The weed smoking ban in the Old Town is set to come into force in mid-May and we will have to wait and see how it plays out. Weed is still illegal in the Netherlands but possession of an amount under 5 grams was decriminalised in the ’70s, with plenty of tourists flocking to the city to enjoy it.