AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Two polls released Wednesday showed strong support in the Netherlands for legalizing marijuana outright after several decades of a tolerance policy.
Newspaper Trouw interviewed the mayors of the Netherlands’ 30 largest cities, and two-thirds supported legalization.
Meanwhile, Dutch pollster Maurice de Hond found that 49 percent of Dutch support legalization, while an additional 15 percent want tolerance to continue, and just 33 percent want a more restrictive policy. The poll had a margin of error of less than 3 percentage points.
Marijuana is technically illegal in the Netherlands, though people aren’t prosecuted for possession of small amounts. It is sold openly in some cafes.
The latest polls follow a call Tuesday by the minister of reform to license more marijuana sellers outside cities to ease problems caused by foreign drug tourists in city centers.
Parliament is to debate the issue later Wednesday.
In Trouw’s survey, 20 mayors said they wanted so-called soft drugs hashish and marijuana to be legalized. Four supported tougher measures proposed by the conservative government, including restricting the number of licensed sellers and increasing penalties for growers. Six mayors had no opinion or could not be contacted.
“Something has to happen, otherwise we’re going to go crazy here,” Jan Mans, mayor of the eastern border city of Venlo, told the paper.
Many Germans drive across the border into Venlo to buy hash and marijuana.
“Why not do a trial with legalizing soft drugs in the border region? With the results, we can no doubt show Europe that it works,” Mans said.