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Amsterdam will ban cannabis outdoors in its red-light district

People walk through Amsterdam's red-light district shortly after it reopened in 2020, during the pandemic. The neighborhood attracts millions of tourists each year.
Dean Mouhtaropoulos
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Getty Images
People walk through Amsterdam's red-light district shortly after it reopened in 2020, during the pandemic. The neighborhood attracts millions of tourists each year.

The city of Amsterdam is banning the smoking of marijuana outdoors in its red-light district. The ban is part of a host of changes to appease those who live in the popular neighborhood, which attracts millions of tourists each year.

"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 council said in astatement announcing the news on Thursday.

This behavior, the council said, comes "at the expense of the residents' night's rest and the quality of life and safety of the entire neighbourhood."

In the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal, and marijuana is openly sold in shops, city officials are working to combat "overtourism" within the Dutch capital. A former mayorattempted to ban marijuana cafes within the red-light district in 2014. Since then, the city's government increased taxes on hotel rooms and short-term rentals.

The ban, which will go into effect in May, is part of a host of other changes to the historic neighborhood. The municipality is tightening a measure that prohibits the sale of alcohol after 4 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday.

In order to spread foot traffic in the area, the city also extended its curfew for certain businesses which will take effect in April. Cafés, restaurants and sex establishments with a catering permit can keep their doors open until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., while "prostitution businesses" can remain open until 6 a.m.

The municipality is also enforcing what it calls a "window time" for businesses that serve alcohol: no one will be allowed to enter after 1 a.m. These businesses will also need to close their terraces at 1 a.m., an hour earlier than normal.

The city council is also considering banning smoking on the terraces of coffee shops in the future.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Giulia Heyward
Giulia Heyward is a weekend reporter for Digital News, based out of New York. She previously covered education and other national news as a reporting fellow at The New York Times and as the national education reporter at Capital B News. She interned for POLITICO, where she covered criminal justice reform in Florida, and CNN, as a writer for the trends & culture team. Her work has also been published in The Atlantic, HuffPost and The New Republic.