Amsterdam to close many brothels, marijuana cafe

By dutch-marshal · Dec 7, 2008 · ·
  1. dutch-marshal

    Amsterdam to close many brothels, marijuana cafes

    AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — Amsterdam unveiled plans Saturday to close up to half of the famed brothels and marijuana cafes in its ancient city center as part of a major cleanup operation.

    The city says it wants to drive organized crime out of the district, and is targeting businesses that "generate criminality," including prostitution, gambling parlors, "smart shops" that sell herbal treatments, head shops and "coffee shops" where marijuana is sold openly.

    "I think that the new reality will be more in line with our image as a tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals" said alderman Lodewijk Asscher, one of the main proponents of the plan.

    The city said it would also reduce the number of business it sees as related to the "decay" of the center, including peep shows, sex theaters, sex shops, mini supermarkets, massage parlors and souvenir shops.

    The city said there were too many of these and it believes some are used for money-laundering by drug dealers and the human traffickers who supply many of the city's prostitutes.

    Asscher underlined that the city will remain true to its freewheeling reputation.
    "It'll be a place with 200 windows (for prostitutes) and 30 coffee shops, which you can't find anywhere else in the world — very exciting, but also with cultural attractions and you won't have to be embarrassed to say you came," he said.

    Under the plan announced Saturday, Amsterdam will spend euro30-euro40 million ($38-$51 million) to bring hotels, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques to the center. It will also build new underground parking areas for cars and bikes and may use some of the vacated buildings to ease a housing shortage.

    Amsterdam already had plans to close many brothels and said last month it might close some coffee shops throughout the city, but the plans announced Saturday go much further.

    Asscher said the city would use various techniques to reshape the area, including rezoning, buying out some businesses and offering others assistance in "upgrading" their stores. In the past, the city has shut a number of brothels and sex clubs, relying primarily on a law that allows the closure of businesses with bookkeeping irregularities.

    He said the city will also offer help for prostitutes and coffee shop employees who lose their jobs as a result of the plan.
    Prostitution, which has spread into several areas of the center, will be allowed only in two areas — notably De Wallen ("The Walls"), a web of streets and alleys around the city's medieval retaining dam walls.

    The area has been a center of prostitution since before the city's golden shipping age in the 1600s.
    Prostitution was legalized in the Netherlands in 2000, formalizing a long-standing tolerance policy.

    Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, but prosecutors won't press charges for possession of small amounts and the coffee shops are able to sell it openly.


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  1. radiometer
    I like knowing that at any given time, 200 and exactly 200 women will be legally selling their sexual services in Amsterdam. It gives some stability to my fragile world.

    Oh, and I'm sure that that limit will virtually eliminate human trafficking. :rolleyes:
  2. fnord
    Souvenir shops and mini supermarkets? Why do they want to close those? do they offer other services? or is it just something that the city thinks dosent belong in the area?
  3. chillinwill
    Amsterdam's Brothels And Cannabis Cafes Furious Over Mayor's 'Clean-Up'

    Dissent Grows Over A Planned Crackdown On Prostitution And Drugs Aimed At Curbing Organised Crime In The Red-Light District

    Amsterdam has long been famed for its relaxed approach to prostitution and soft drugs, making the Dutch city one of the most popular destinations for tens of thousands of Britons on stag and hen parties.

    But all that may be about to change. As part of a major 'clean-up' of the city centre, the local authorities yesterday unveiled plans to close half of the brothels and the little coffee shops where cannabis can be bought and smoked, prompting warnings that they will cost the city dear as visitors head elsewhere.

    Although prostitution has been legal for eight years, and possession of small amounts of drugs has long been tolerated, the latest moves mark an escalation in the culture wars in a country that many of its people believe has become too liberal.

    At the heart of the new initiative is the city's drive against the organised crime that it claims gravitates to the areas with high concentrations of 'coffee shops', brothels and the 'windows' where women advertise themselves.

    While Amsterdam has long been held up as a model of the argument in favour of the legalisation of soft drugs and the sex trade, its critics counter that the windows and coffee shops mask the violent reality of organised crime. 'By reduction and zoning of these kinds of functions, we will be able to manage and tackle the criminal infrastructure better,' the city said in a statement.

    Opponents of the clean-up - including coffee-shop owners and the prostitutes' union, De Rode Draad ( Red Thread ), which represents 20,000 Dutch prostitutes - told The Observer yesterday that they believed that, far from reducing crime, it would encourage drug dealers and prostitutes to go underground in areas where they were banned

    They also warned that the new clampdown on drugs and the sex industry would have a profound effect on the economics of a city famous for both things. 'Amsterdam is the city of sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll,' said Metje Blaak, a spokeswoman for De Rode Draad, which provides health screening and other training for its members

    'Now we have no sex. No drugs. The women will go on the streets and to the hotels. It is very bad, not least in terms of women's health and safety. The mayor has not listened to the women or the coffee shops,' she added.

    She also blamed the European Union for pressurising Holland into tightening its laws. 'Once we were a free country,' she said. 'Now they tell us what to do.'

    Prostitution will now be permitted in only two areas, including De Wallen ( The Walls ) - a web of streets and alleys around the city's medieval retaining dam walls. The area has been a centre of prostitution since before the city's golden shipping age in the 17th century.

    The city said yesterday it would offer retraining to prostitutes and coffee-shop employees who lost their jobs.

    'Money laundering, extortion and human trafficking are things you do not see, but they are hurting people and the city. The new reality will be more in line with our image as a tolerant and crazy place, rather than a free zone for criminals,' said Alderman Lodewijk Asscher, one of the main proponents of the plan. 'We can still have sex and drugs, but in a way that shows the city is in control.

    'It'll be a place with 200 windows and 30 coffee shops, which you can't find anywhere else in the world - very exciting, but also with cultural attractions. You won't have to be embarrassed to say you came,' he said.

    Merlijn Boshuizen of Plan A, one of the biggest organisers of stag and hen trips to the city, is not convinced. 'We have had 7,000 people, mainly from the UK and Ireland, this year. This is won't be good for tourism. People come here because of the drugs and the windows.'

    The coffee-shop owners and workers are as sceptical of the new clampdown as De Rode Draad and Boshuizen. Although cannabis is technically illegal in the Netherlands, prosecutors do not press charges for possession of small amounts and the coffee shops are able to sell it openly. However, in the last year, authorities in Amsterdam and elsewhere have subjected the coffee shops to ever-more stringent checks.

    'Marco', owner of the Rastababy Cafe in Prins Hendrikkade, near the city's Centraal Station, said yesterday: 'It is really shitty. We want to make money and they want to close us down. The city will lose money. People come here for the coffee shops. To smoke.'

    The same dismay was evident at the Reefer Cafe in St Antoniesbreestraat, not far from the Rembrandt Museum, where patrons can buy a pre-rolled 'White Widow' spliff for ?3, or a muffin laced with skunk resin.

    Author: Peter Beaumont, Staff Writer
    Pubdate: Sun, 07 Dec 2008
    Source: Observer, The (UK)
    Copyright: 2008 Guardian News and Media Limited
  4. Alfa
    Note that Amsterdam has hundreds of coffeeshops. So a reduction to 30 coffeeshops, is dramatic. 30 coffeeshops for a a million inhabitants, plus millions of tourists? Illegal trade will flourish.
  5. Nature Boy
    I couldn't agree more. Unless the remaining coffeeshops are virtual cannabis supermarkets, which they won't be, supply just won't be met. Tourists will still flock to Amsterdam as it takes years for a decline to kick in without an outright ban, but more and more people will end up buying from street dealers which re-opens the door to all the problems of prohibition in the first place. Implementing this will be very difficult however. I'm somewhat confident that those behind this movement won't be in power long enough to allow their design to take over.
  6. old hippie 56
    Those behind the movement must be getting pointers from the good old USA on how to ruin a good thing.
  7. dutch-marshal
    jan peter balkenende our prime minister loves America
  8. yaba
    Fuck ! Sorry, but I am Dutch and always loved Amsterdam and it should stay like it was (moved 8 years ago) Not to sure how much it has changed in those years.

    They won't stop things happening ! All they will do is putting its prices up, as it will move more underground..
  9. drix
    Yep, apart from MAYBE making it a little harder for people traffickers, I can't see how this will do anything to control organized crime, apart from driving up their profits. How easy is it to buy smack or other drugs in Amsterdam? They don't have smack cafes do they? Maybe the inhabitants or some anyway are just fed up with partying Brits and silly buggers.(I am a partying Brit. At times, I have also been a silly bugger.)
  10. yaba
    Yeah soon you can buy your weed and smack from the same person !!! On the street, not in the shop ! Its stupid !!
  11. drix
    But far more convenient!!
    Sorry, couldn't help that. I guess in a way it depends why they are doing it. The reasons in the article certainly seem stupid to me.
  12. yaba
    LOL yes, but its a shame everyone loves Amsterdam for the Rijksmuseum, Anne frank house and don't forget the Van Gogh Museum..

    And the minority is looking at the junkie's to see from who the buy it !!! So they wont get riped off..
  13. drix
    True, true. So much else there. Do the coffee houses and brothels pose any threat to cultural heritage? Can't see it myself, but I am now on the other side of the world.
  14. yaba
    When I was living in Amsterdam 8 years ago, nothing was a problem ! If you made a nuisance out of yourself then, yes your in the shit !

    But if you don't bother anyone, no one is going to bother you! (even the police)

    Its the war against drugs, and they winning Ha Ha ! Now the criminals can make more money ! The government is a annoyance rather then a deterrent !!
  15. doggy_hat
    I don't understand their logic at all. In order to curb crime they're going to push cannabis into the black market?

    You guys banned the voting machines right? I hope the next Dutch Elections go better. But even then, repealing fascist laws are alot more difficult than passing them.
  16. yaba
    drix, swim was being sarcastic wit h the Rijksmuseum, Anna Frank House, Gogh Museum. Most tourist are coming to The Netherlands mainly Amsterdam, for a good time !!

    And it should stay like that ! Just annoys me when some pen pushers wanting to change things..

    90% or more tourist are coming to Amsterdam (or other Dutch city's) for our drugs and prostitution policy's. It brings in a lot of money for the hotels, restaurants, taxi firms and other normal business owners, yes thats the so called drug tourism (not the people who come for our cultural heritage, they only bring in a small amount of money)
  17. sylenth
    they do have too many souvenier shops... you seen one you've seen em all. supermarkets though i think they could definetly do with a few more...

    this is really all depressing news & unfortunate... definetly puts the smurfs off going to visit amsterdam again as eagerly as the last time. problem is new world order, people are controlled, countries are controlled... we're living in world with a terrible system ruining alot of the great things we love. :thumbsdown:
  18. Burnt
    Why don't they solve the real problem, the organized crime!?

    If they say that so many of the prostitutes are being trafficed etc (which I am sure it happens) why not bust the traffickers!? Not make life harder for prostitutes. The traffickers are the criminals! Now a bunch of woman who may have nothing to do with anything illegal will lose their jobs and thats not fair. If they are worried about the crime in the red light district arrest the people who sell drugs there! Its that simple, don't screw over the people who are just trying to make a living.

    Same goes for coffeeshops. If they legalized growing of cannabis it would solve all the illegality surrounding cannabis and thus get rid of the problem of large scale grow operations. Unfortunately the EU won't let that happen (another reason the EU is a bunch of bullshit, I don't know why people put up with it). Although I have heard some cities in the netherlands are going to try allowing people to grow cannabis legally to try and solve the illegal grower problem? The argument that coffeeshops shouldn't be near schools its total BS, I don't think there is a single kid in the netherlands who has never seen a coffeeshop.

    All this will do is hurt amsterdams tourism industry and possibly lead to more crime not less. No offense but no one goes to amsterdam for the museums (unless they are old and into art/history, but that will never replace the people who go there for partying). People go for the drugs and the sex, and that industry brings in a lot of money so what? I think this is a shame. Anyway the city will pay for this the hard way. Less and less people will go there the more strict they get and bam no more cash for all the people working in the tourism industry (which is a lot). If locals have a problem with the tourism, while I see their argument do they want their city to shrivel up and lose half its source of income!? I doubt it.
  19. Bajeda
    Can't people go for both?

    Cannabis Cafe followed by Art Museum ain't a bad time.
  20. old hippie 56
    and then on to the brothels. What a evening to remember.;)
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