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Amsterdam gets tough on smoking (cannabis) in schools

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Amsterdam city council is to impose a blanket ban on the smoking of marijuana in school playgrounds, and may extend the ban to playgrounds in parks and in residential areas as well, according to media reports on Wednesday.

The ban means schools will be able to involve the police if teenagers are caught smoking on school premises.

While it is up to schools to take initial steps, the police can be brought in to deal with repeat offenders, mayor Eberhard van der Laan told the press.

The government is also planning to raise the age at which teenagers can buy cigarettes to 18, which will further strengthen the position of schools which want to stamp out smoking altogether.


According to the Parool, many of the city’s schools already have a ban on smoking close to the school premises.

'It is a good initiative but schools must be free to maintain their own rules', Jolanda Hogewind, head of the Calvijn met Junior College in Slotervaart told the paper. The school banned cigarettes and joints this year. ‘I don’t want to find police officers checking the playground on their own initiative,’ she told the paper.

Earlier efforts to ban marijuana from schools failed when the Council of State said it is not technically possible to ban something which is illegal. Changes in the drugs laws have now made this possible.


Marijuana possession remains a criminal offence in the Netherlands although there is an official policy of ignoring up to five grammes for personal use.

In addition, some 44 of the city’s 220 cannabis cafes – where small amounts of cannabis are sold under licence – will have to close because they are less than 250 metres from a school.

Coupled with earlier plans to shut 26 coffee shops in the red light district, the number of official marijuana outlets in the city will go down by one third.


Mayor Eberhard van de Laan says the new policy is a balance between the advantages brought by coffee shops in terms of social control and a reduction in street dealing, coupled with the nuisance and crime associated with some coffee shops.

The capital will still have more coffee shops than The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht put together, Van der Laan is quoted as saying by the Parool.

Around one third of the seven million tourists who visit Amsterdam every year are said to visit a coffee shop.

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Presumably the remaining coffeeshops will be allowed the supplies to handle the larger demand?

By Puck | 12 December 2012 3:41 PM

Again I have to ask the key question - why in heaven's name was this ever ever allowed in the Netherlands to begin with? I smoke pot occasionally myself but I would never ever even imagine that allowing children to smoke pot in the schoolyard would ever be a good thing for them. Could some Dutch person perhaps explain that to me please? How did that come to pass exactly, allowing kids to smoke pot on school grounds? I am looking forward to hearing this.

By B | 12 December 2012 4:01 PM

Yeah, like the kids are going to take any notice of *that*.

By woods | 12 December 2012 4:21 PM

What about alcohol (hard drug) dealers (pubs) ?

By Philippe | 12 December 2012 4:24 PM

It is an imperfect system, but it also demonstrates the stupidity of blanket criminalization. Since pot can be sold in coffee shops, the city can regulate where those shops are and setup (reasonable) rules that keep it "downtown" and away from kids and schools; everybody wins. Without the coffee shops, there would be sketchy street dealers well within 250 meters of a school who have no problem selling pot or any other drug to children. Now the government just has to get its head screwed on straight and regulate (and tax) cultivation in a similar manner.

By RC | 13 December 2012 6:59 AM

@B: as far as i know it was never allowed. smoking pot is *ignored* when it happens in a coffeshop. The problem is that it was increasingly ignored also out of the coffeshops. Your question would be like asking why is was "allowed" to drink and drive in Italy (at least 15+ years ago). It was not allowed, but it was sanctioned very mildly. Later they became stricter in applying existing rules (and today far fewer people drink and drive). It is the same here- if the rules were fully applied you should smoke pot only in a coffeshop (and I think that is a good policy).

By the_expat | 13 December 2012 9:17 AM

Given the scale, it is the fast food places near schools that do the worst damage to the youths. The government should push all macdo's, kfc's, etc. away from schools too.

By George | 13 December 2012 12:19 PM

B, you should turn your question around. The fact that something is not forbidden does not mean it is allowed, so I am sure schools are not allowing youngsters to smoke pot in school. It is just something that is happening more often than desired, whence the need to regulate this. It is actually exaclty as having sex in the schools toilets among students. Is it allowed? is it forbidden? It is certainly not desirable or encouraged, but until someone is trapped on this, most schools won't think of making an issue of this.

By Mammamsterdam | 13 December 2012 5:15 PM

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