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Netherlands: Amsterdam bans smoking cannabis in the Red-Light District

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The city of Amsterdam has implemented a ban on smoking cannabis in public areas within the famous Red-Light Disctric. The ban is part of the city's efforts to address the negative effects of "overtourism" in the historic district. The measure comes into force next May.

In an official statement, the city council stated that “residents of the old city center are structurally and excessively disturbed by crowds and nuisances caused by mass tourism and substance abuse in public space. This behavior comes at the expense of residents' night rest and the quality of life and safety of the entire neighbourhood”.

The Netherlands is known for its tolerant drug policy, where cannabis is sold openly and prostitution is legal. However, city officials are taking steps to mitigate the impacts of tourism in the capital. In 2014, a former mayor unsuccessfully tried to ban famous coffee shops of cannabis in the Red-Light Disctric, and since then, the government has increased taxes on hotel rooms and short-term rentals, and there are proposals on the subject practically every year.

The smoking ban will come into force from May and is part of a number of changes aimed at improving the quality of life for residents of this historic quarter of Amsterdam. The city has also tightened restrictions on the sale of alcohol after 16 pm from Thursday to Sunday and will also limit the opening hours of certain businesses from April, where cafes, restaurants and prostitution establishments with catering services can be located. open until 2 am on weekends, as opposed to the current schedule which is until 3 or 4 am, and businesses dedicated to prostitution will now be open until 3 am and not until 6 am as they are now.

In addition, the municipality has introduced a “window of time” for establishments serving alcohol, with a ban on entry after 1 am and closure of terraces at the same time. The City Council is also exploring the possibility of banning smoking on the terraces of coffee shops in the future.

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