Holland’s Pot Tolerance Dissolving? The Hague Bans Cannabis Smoking in City Centre

An unidentified man smokes a marijuana joint in a cafe in Rotterdam June 14, 2005. (File image via Reuters)

Since the 1970s, Holland was the example to tout whenever mentioning the country’s traditional “gedoogbeleid” or “tolerance policy” towards cannabis. 

However, this is changing.

The Hague, a city located on the western coast of the Netherlands, became the first Dutch city to ban the smoking of cannabis around its city centre, central railway station and major shopping areas, The Guardian Reported on Monday.

Within two weeks, this new ban will be enforced by the police, with warnings given to those found to be using the drug in 13 designated public places.

Those violating this new decree will also be fined. The level of fines will be decided by the public prosecutor.  

Flyers are already being distributed at cannabis-selling coffee shops and homeless shelters to warn people.  An English-language version of the flyer is to be made available in hotels. Holland has long been famous as a marijuana hub for tourists.

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A man smokes a marijuana cigarette in front of a sign prohibiting marijuana smoking in public, in the district of De Baarsjes in Amsterdam February 2, 2006. (File image via Reuters)

“Many Complaints”

Spokesman for the city’s mayor said the decision was made after receiving “many complaints” from both residents and visitors. Their grievances include the strong smell of cannabis and the noise emanating from its users.

The spokesman added that the mayor and police had decided there was evidence that “the use of soft drugs has a negative impact on the living environment of residents and visitors.”

While the capital Amsterdam prohibited drug use around schools and playgrounds in 2012, becoming the first in the Netherlands to take such step, the trend to further regulate cannabis in Holland is on the rise.

In early April, the Dutch government began considering to experiment with legalizing marijuana by the end of 2019. But with regulation, comes warnings.  It is expected that any coffee shop dispensing legal marijuana will be compelled to tell their clients about the so-called dangers.

Cannabis is sold openly in 573 coffee shops operating in 103 of the 380 municipalities in the Netherlands.