Amsterdam brings in no-toking zones for schools

Share this article
Have your say

Amsterdam’s mayor is to ­
formally ban pupils from smoking marijuana at school.

The drug has always been banned in schools, said a spokeswoman for the Dutch capital city. However staff have been unable to enforce the policy since it has no legal underpinning.

“It’s not really what you have in mind as a teacher, that children would be turning up for class stoned, or drunk either for that matter,” the spokeswoman said yesterday. “But it has been a problem for some schools.”

After a change in national law, Amsterdam will now be able to declare “no toking zones” – areas such as schools and playgrounds where smoking marijuana is forbidden – under a public nuisance law from 1 January. Police can then fine pupils or anybody else who flouts the rules.

The move is closely paired with a decision by the new government to ditch plans for a national “weed pass” that would have blocked tourists from buying marijuana.

That was a measure years in the making, and greatly desired by southern cities such as Maastricht that have been flooded with dealers from Belgium and Germany who drive across the border to buy marijuana in bulk. But the weed pass was opposed by Amsterdam, where drug tourists are not generally seen as causing many problems.

Last month, mayor Eberhard Van der Laan proclaimed that “coffee shops” – which traditionally sell marijuana – would stay open for tourists after all. In a letter yesterday, he noted that one in three tourists who come to Amsterdam try marijuana while in the city – more than previously estimated.

Yesterday’s decision is a classic Dutch compromise – marijuana will remain available for adults and tourists, but access for children will be restricted.

After decades of a tolerance policy, Dutch marijuana usage rates are in the middle of international norms, higher than in Germany, but lower than in France, the UK or US.