A ban on the smoking of marijuana in the streets of the city center of Amsterdam in the Netherlands came into effect on Thursday. This ban is part of an effort by the city’s first female mayor to “clean up” this area.
However, the smoking of marijuana is still allowed on the terraces of coffee shops.
NL Times report the ban applies in the Red Light District, Damplein, Damrak and Nieuwmarkt. This applies to tourists, but also to local residents.
People who are caught smoking marijuana on the street will be fined 100 euros (about R2 100), which can be issued by the police and other law enforcement officers.
Mayor Femke Halsema hopes that the ban will reduce problems caused by drug use in public spaces, especially by tourists, which is a nuisance for residents.
Coffee shop owners are also not worried about losing patronage. Because people are still allowed to smoke in coffee shops, this will probably mean that they will gain customers.
However, the application of the ban is a major concern.
“The enforcement of the alcohol ban is already not working. Then this ban won’t work either,” said Joachim Helms, owner of Green House.
The Guardian report Els Iping, a local resident who is part of the “Stop the craziness” community group, says residents are discouraged about tourists who cause chaos on the streets due to misbehavior. In recent months, the group has asked tourists to behave themselves during evening patrols on weekends, called “Wallen Watch” patrols.
“We no longer want our city to be known as the city of sex and drugs,” said Iping.
Halsema has big plans for the city and is currently talking to private developers about building a controversial, large-scale erotic center elsewhere and removing 100 brothel windows in Walletjiestraat.
Meanwhile, there is a national determination to crack down on drug-related crime, which research suggests is behind some of the cash-based red-light district businesses.
The night before the ban went into effect, businessmen gathered anxiously on the streets, cursing local activists and voicing their concern that tourists would no longer support them.
Jim Zielinski, a spokesperson for the Bulldog coffee shop and a board member of the business group Biz Burgwallen, said some of the business people are angry.
“The heart of the neighborhood, which makes it so extraordinary, is slowly but surely being destroyed,” he said.
“It’s like the game Jenga: Each time they take a block away and at some point the whole stack will collapse.”
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