While most US states that have legalized recreational cannabis still don’t allow the drug to be consumed in public, the Netherlands has no such ban on public marijuana consumption. Even today, one can light up anywhere tobacco smoking is allowed. But on Tuesday, April 17, 2018, The Hague banned the consumption of cannabis in the downtown area. Public cigarette consumption, however, remains legal in these areas.
The city announced in a letter that it will forbid what the Dutch law calls “soft drugs” in 13 places in the city, including the entire city center, the Central Station rail terminal and the seaside district of Scheveningen. The ban came after numerous residents complained that they felt disturbed by the intense smell of cannabis caused by hordes of German tourists from who have frequented the city-tolerated coffeeshops for decades.
Violator will be fined
Anyone who violates the ban will receive a warning until the end of April 2018. After this period, citations will be issued. The fines will be determined by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The city administration recently began an effort to inform tourists about the new regulations through fliers and an online campaign.
Although Dutch coffeeshops have sold cannabis products since the 1970s, they still operate in a gray area. The general framework is the same all over the country, but because the shops are regulated and licensed by the municipalities where they are located, the details of acceptance vary by city. The regulations have been gradually tightened since the 1990s, resulting in a disappearance of the once-prolific coffeeshops associated with the region. The ban in The Hague is the latest action by Dutch municipalities grappling with the ambiguity of cannabis policy in the Netherlands.