Amsterdam is often thought of as a city of sin. Prostitution is legal and cannabis has been openly used there for years. But now things are changing as Amsterdam bans cannabis in Red Light District. Read on to find out why the city is making this shocking move.

What is the Red-Light District?

Before discussing the Amsterdam bans cannabis in Red Light District move, let’s get a handle on what a red light district is.

Many people think of a red-light district as a place where all kinds of shocking things happen. And that’s basically true. But what are these areas exactly?

A red-light district, or pleasure district, is an urban area where there is a concentration of prostitution and other sex-related businesses such as sex shops, strip clubs, adult theaters, etc. The term originates as red lights were once used to identify brothels.

There are red-light districts all over the world, but the one in Amsterdam may be the most popular. It was designated by authorities as a center used to regulate prostitution. Some red-light districts are kept under surveillance to ensure no illegal activity occurs in the area.

Amsterdam has three red-light districts but the most popular one is in the city center. If you go there, you will see prostitutes in windows advertising their wares. Prostitution is not legal on the streets of the city.

What are Cannabis Laws in Amsterdam?

Amsterdam bans cannabis in Red Light District. But what are the cannabis laws in the city?

It may be surprising to find out that cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands. However, there is a tolerance policy which means the law is not enforced on the retail sale of small quantities for personal use.

Furthermore, Amsterdam has a local coffee shop policy to limit public nuisance, keep the sector manageable, and prevent criminal involvement. It reduced the number of coffee shops in the area from 350 in 1999 to 165 in 2017. This has contributed to a decrease in street sales helping to separate the tolerated soft drugs (marijuana and hashish) from the illegal hard drug market.

Coffeeshops are also subject to regular police and tax authority visits and inspections to ensure they are maintaining local regulations. Some rules that apply are as follows:

Amsterdam Bans Cannabis in Red Light District

Up until now, cannabis smoking has been permitted in many areas of the city, but now things are changing as Amsterdam bans cannabis in Red Light District.

The Dutch capital’s ban will go into effect in mid-May. It is being introduced to reduce crime and improve the quality of life for its residents.

“Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the city. Tourists also attract street dealers, who in turn cause crime and insecurity,” the city said in a statement.

The council added that the behavior has negatively affected residents’ quality of life and safety.

The Amsterdam bans cannabis in Red Light District move has been initiated by the city’s first female mayor Femke Halsema. It is part of a larger campaign to crack down on its “huge anti-social behavior” Issues.

Other measures besides Amsterdam bans cannabis in red light district proposals introduced include restricting drinking hours, prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 4 PM Thursday through Sunday, and enforcing earlier closing times for cafes, bars, restaurants, and brothels.

The city will also be enforcing a “window time” for businesses that serve alcohol. No one will be allowed to enter these businesses after 1 AM. They will also need to close their terraces at 1 AM, an hour earlier than usual.

As of now, the ban on smoking cannabis will be limited to the areas that host the city’s sex shops and strip clubs. But if the city’s goals are not achieved, the ban may be extended to include the terraces of marijuana cafes.

How Will Amsterdam Bans Cannabis in Red Light District Affect Tourism

The mayor is currently looking to improve the quality of life for residents who live in a city that is suffering from ‘over-tourism’. But there is a concern that the new rules will discourage tourists and thus diminish the city’s economy. However, Halsema is stressing that she wants Amsterdam to be known for attractions other than sex and drugs.

She is also extending curfews for certain businesses to promote foot traffic. Cafes, restaurants, and sex establishments with a catering permit will be able to stay open until 3 or 4 AM while those with a prostitution license can stay open until 6 AM.

Other Attempts to Deal with Amsterdam Tourism

The new move regarding Amsterdam bans cannabis in Red Light District is just one of the many attempts the local government has made to keep tourism under control. In 2021, Halsema introduced legislation to keep tourists out of the city’s coffee shops. But owners railed against this saying they would lose 80% of their business.  

The mayor has also announced a plan to move sex workers out of the De Wallen red light district to a central building closer to the outskirts of the city.

City officials also proposed a tourist quota of no more than 20 million overnight stays a year.

However, the proposals have been met with local business opposition as owners stand to lose a good amount of money. Gary Gallagher, manager of the Amsterdam Cannabis Museum felt the best solution may be to increase police presence in the area.

“If they want to cut down on the rowdy UK bachelor parties, we’re all in favor of that, but stopping people from spending money, especially now, I don’t think that’s very smart,” said Gallagher back in 2021, just as the world was recovering from the pandemic.

The Amsterdam bans cannabis in Red Light District is a shocking initiative. But it might just work to make life more pleasant for residents. We can only wait and see what the outcome will be.