Amsterdam to ban cannabis use on streets of Red Light District

Published on February 10, 2023 · Last updated February 11, 2023
(Marija Jovovic/iStock)

The city known for cannabis tourism is cleaning up the streets of its famous late night destination. Amsterdam will also limit alcohol sales.

Amsterdam’s weed-friendly coffee shops have been a destination for canna-tourists for decades. But locals are growing tired of visitors toking in the popular Red Light District, which is also the center of the city’s legal sex work trade.

So lawmakers are banning residents and visitors from smoking cannabis in the Red Light District. In addition to the ban on smoking weed, Amsterdam said it will intensify measures to discourage alcohol sales, which are already banned after 4 p.m. from Thursday to Sunday.

“Residents of the old city center experience a lot of nuisance from mass tourism and alcohol and drug abuse on the street. Tourists also attract street dealers, who in turn promote criminality and insecurity. Especially at night, the atmosphere can become grim. People who are under the influence also stick around longer.”

Municipality of Amsterdam

In 1976, the Netherlands passed a policy known as “gedoogbeleid,” meaning the “Dutch model,” which stated that the government would openly ignore the use of cannabis, even though the plant remained illegal. Hundreds of coffeeshops soon sprung up in the capital city of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. But as legalization now spreads globally, Amsterdam citizens and officials have become less 420-friendly.


On top of the ban, many of Amsterdam’s famous cannabis cafes are also closing down. In 2022, government researchers found that 58% of foreign tourists who visit Amsterdam come mainly to consume cannabis at coffeeshops. Last year, the city chose to shrink the number of cannabis-friendly coffee shops from 166 to 70. Officials hoped to continue serving the local market but curb visitors who have coffeeshops at the top of their Dutch travel to-do list.

“The problem is: There are just too many of them,” Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema said earlier in 2022. “The drug tourists are the reason for an increase in demand for marijuana,” which the country’s citizens didn’t sign up for.

With bud booming worldwide, Amsterdam is no longer the only option for 420-friendly travelers. Here are 17 countries that could soon replace Amsterdam as the top tourist destination for traveling tokers.

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Calvin Stovall
Calvin Stovall
Calvin Stovall is Leafly's East Coast Editor.
View Calvin Stovall's articles
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