Amsterdam to ban cannabis outdoors in tourist hotspot red-light district

Amsterdam's red-light district.
Amsterdam's red-light district. Photo credit: Getty Images

The city of Amsterdam, a popular destination for tourists who visit its marijuana coffee shops, will ban smoking cannabis in public in the red-light district as part of a campaign to clean up the area.

Smoking the drug in the streets will be prohibited in a canal-lined section of town where there are brothels, sex shops and strip clubs, the city council said in a statement on Thursday.

The move was called an "historic intervention" by Dutch Amsterdam's "Het Parool" newspaper and city council said the ban may be extended to the terraces of cannabis coffee shops at a later date.

It is part of a campaign by Amsterdam's first female mayor, Femke Halsema, to make the neighbourhood more liveable for residents. The area draws millions of tourists every year, but also attracts crime.

"Residents of the old town suffer a lot from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse in the streets", city council said in the statement.

"Tourists also attract street dealers, who in turn cause crime and insecurity," it said.

The city also plans to cut back opening times for restaurants, bars and sex workers, and to further tighten the sale of alcohol in the red-light district, it said.