Amsterdam Pot Ban: Mayor Officially Bans Marijuana From Schools, Parks With 'No Toking Zones'

By Staff Reporter on December 12, 2012 4:54 PM EST

Marijuana
Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan announced the enforcement of "No Toking Zones" to prevent marijuana use in schools and parks. (Photo: Reuters)

Today, Amsterdam mayor Eberhard van der Laan officially lays down the ban of students smoking marijuana at school. While this matter seems completely obvious and common sense elsewhere, the mayor's decision to formally impose the law actually makes the Dutch capital the very first city in the Netherlands to do so.

Thanks to the unique drug policies in the Netherlands, politicians have long debated around the "tolerance" principle loophole - while marijuana is technically illegal, the police cannot prosecute individuals for possession of small amounts.

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In fact, city spokesperson Iris Reshef expressed the challenges in enforcing the old policy when students were seen smoking marijuana near or on campus. Despite the fact that schools have always forbidden pot, the "tolerance" principle loophole prevented school administrators from being able to enforce the students to stop smoking .

Speaking with the Associated Press, Reshef admits, "It's not really what you have in mind as an educator, that children would be turning up for class stoned, or drunk either for that matter. But it has been a problem for some schools."

What's more, this loophole also allowed the city of Amsterdam to become famous for its pot "coffee shops," establishments that openly sold marijuana. However, Amsterdam is also particularly concerned about the side effects of children that risk being frequently exposed to marijuana in public areas.

Thanks to van der Laan's new law, Amsterdam can now implement "no toking zones" as of January 1. "No toking zones" will be designated in areas including schools and playgrounds where weed-smoking is forbidden under a public nuisance ordinance. With the law change, the police can slam fines against individuals that dare challenge the rules.

Drug regulation in the Netherlands have been a long concern. Last month, the government had also ditched the "weed pass" law, which would have prevented tourists from purchasing marijuana.

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. Southern cities like Maastricht, Netherlands, often encounter scores of dealers from Belgium and Germany that make a stop in the city to buy marijuana in bulk before returning to their country. As for Amsterdam, foreign tourists cause less problems.

This morning, the Dutch politicians settled their tourism concerns with a very simple compromise - marijuana will be available for adults and tourists that would like to use it while it will be restricted for all children.

While the Dutch country possesses one of the rare governments that have practiced decades of marijuana tolerance, the use of the drug remains remarkably average compared to international statistics. While the Dutch marijuana usage rate is higher than international norms, its figures are still lower than those of France, Britain, or the U.S.

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