Amsterdam will ban cannabis outdoors in its red-light district
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 a statement 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 mayor attempted 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.
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