Amsterdam to Ban Marijuana Smoking From Red Light District — Here’s Why

The new rules will ban all smoking of marijuana in the streets of the popular area.

Canal in the Red Lights district of Amsterdam at night.

Angelo Cavalli/Getty Images

Amsterdam is banning smoking marijuana out in the open in its popular red light district in an effort to clean up the "grim" atmosphere.

The new rules will ban all smoking of marijuana in the streets in that area, which is part of Amsterdam’s Canal District and sits near the central train station, Reuters reported. The new rules were announced by the city council and part of a campaign by the city’s first female mayor to make the neighborhood more liveable, the wire service noted.

The new rules will go into effect in mid-May, CNN reported.

"Residents of the old city center experience a lot of nuisance from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse on the street," the Municipality of Amsterdam said in a statement, according to the network. "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… Residents cannot sleep well and the neighborhood is becoming unsafe and unlivable."

The red light district is known for its brothels and sex shops, which are legal in Amsterdam. Marijuana is also legal in the city and is sold in “coffee shops.”

In addition to the smoking ban, the city wants to discourage the sale of alcohol, which is already banned after 4 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday, according to CNN. Going forward, it will also require alcohol to be hidden or removed from stores during those hours.

And if more measures are needed, the network reported Amsterdam will consider banning smoking marijuana in the outdoor seating areas of coffee shops and banning take-out purchases of soft drugs at certain times.

This isn’t the first time the red light district has been in the spotlight. In 2021, the city’s mayor proposed closing down city center brothels and relocating its workers to a purpose-built "erotic center" outside of the heart of the city. The city has also banned city center red light district tours that pass sex workers' windows.

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