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Amsterdam plans to ban weed from Red Light District streets


In their latest effort to rein in carousing visitors, Amsterdam officials announced plans this week to tamp down disruptive behavior in the city’s Red Light District, including barring pot-smoking on the streets, reducing hours for restaurants and brothels, and tightening some alcohol restrictions.

The rules are meant to ease the impact of hordes of sometimes-rowdy tourists on people who live in the area. An announcement from the city council referenced an alcohol- and drug-fueled atmosphere at night that makes the neighborhood unsafe and prevents residents from sleeping.

Officials are taking public comments on many of the proposed measures for the next four weeks before finalizing amendments to municipal bylaws.

Under the measures announced Thursday, the smoking ban would go into effect in mid-May. The city could take more action if the ban doesn’t go far enough to reduce nuisance behavior.

Also under consideration: banning to-go sales of drugs at coffee shops at certain times and potentially restricting smoking on cafe terraces.

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The Netherlands has a tolerance policy for weed, meaning people will not be prosecuted for buying up to five grams of cannabis, which is classified as a “soft drug” and sold in coffee shops. Only visitors 18 and older can enter cannabis cafes, which are not allowed to sell alcohol. While weed can be consumed in coffee shops, most clubs or bars do not allow people to smoke pot on-site.

The city issues permits for brothels and sex clubs to operate. Under rules that had already been decided, brothels will only be able to stay open until 3 a.m., not the 6 a.m. closing time in place now. Restaurants and sex establishments with catering licenses will have to close at 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, rather than 3 or 4 a.m.

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No new visitors would be allowed into businesses with a catering license after 1 a.m., the English-language publication NL Times reported. The time changes would go into effect April 1, the publication said.

Officials also want to close terraces at 1 a.m. in the summer, a change from the previous closing time of 2 a.m.

Alcohol sales at stores and cafeterias in the district will continue to be blocked starting at 4 p.m. from Thursday through Sunday. The city says alcohol displays must also be removed from the shops or hidden from view. Visitors are already not allowed to drink on the streets.

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Amsterdam has tried for years to address overtourism concerns, restricting some tours of the historic Red Light District before the pandemic and voting to move sex workers to an erotic center outside of the district in 2021. According to a November story in the Guardian, however, residents of the proposed neighborhoods for relocation don’t want the businesses — and the workers also don’t want to move.

Late last year, authorities said they planned to take steps to combat tourism problems, including limiting river cruises, curbing rowdy bachelor parties, cracking down on organized pub crawls and taking other measures. Part of the plan included some of the rules announced this week, such as reducing hours for sex businesses and catering establishments and banning smoking in some parts of the city.

A campaign is expected to start this year discouraging global visitors who want to party hard in the city.

“Amsterdammers live in every neighbourhood, including the Red Light District and Leidseplein,” the official visitor information site I amsterdam says. “Limit noise and drunkenness, clean up your mess and don’t pee in the canals. Keep in mind the locals and they will welcome you with open arms.”

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.