My Karma as the politically irresponsible

I decided that the whole wietpas saga is my karma for not voting even once in my life.

In the past, whichever country I have ever lived in, I made some efforts so that my own life and that of my partner would be reasonably comfortable. So my life didn’t change whether it was Thatcher, Blair or one of the numerous governments in Japan. I never lost jobs nor faced any humiliations because of the government changes.

However when I came to the Netherlands to start running Betty,TOO! Coffeeshop, I did not realize that I have stepped out of the comfort zone big time. I was naive enough to believe that coffeeshops, together with red light district and euthanasia is a symbol of Dutch pragmatism and appreciation of human nature and self-control and my business would be treated with respect just as other business.

But the last Dutch government decided that coffeeshops are encouraging illegal overseas trafficking and causing troubles to the law-abiding citizens therefore do not deserve the right to let people freely come in. You have to have a wietpas to come to coffeeshops and you have to be a Dutch resident to have a pass. The government must have been aware of the consequences that coffeeshops will not be able to sustain their businesses so it would effectively be a death sentence to coffeeshops for committing the crime of…………dealing in soft drugs, but it has actually been at least ‘tolerated’ by law. Is it just semantics that confuse me?

If the law is indeed implemented from next year, I will definitely lose my investment (as you can see, we were never millionaires who wanted to have a coffeeshop for the bloody sake of life style. it was a very hard earned money), current jobs and securities which come with it, while disappointing so many nice people from all over the world who have supported Betty,TOO! for many years. And these sound pretty much like my whole life. It was bad enough a couple of years ago that no one wanted to rent an apartment or grant a mortgage simply because of my job but now the national government, whose function is to secure its nations and residents is telling me that I have to lose everything, as if my life is nothing worthy.

If the problem can be solved by changing the politics, there is only one thing we can do. I do accept that I canNOT vote because I am not a Dutch national. However, I still have to speak on my behalf as a respectable-ish resident, explain my situation to the electorates and ask for cooperation.
Like I said, based on my own experience, politics may not matter to many people because we do not always see the direct effects in our life. Whichever party elected in will make sure that your day-to-day life will be just about sweet enough so that you only discuss politics in bars to impress your sexual objects.

However, this time I have to beg you all, with my forehead on the floor (Japanese style), to vote for the parties who are known to oppose wietpas. I learned a lesson that there is yet another thing I mustn’t take for granted in life – basic human rights to continue operating businesses under an already given lisence – and in order to secure this, I need your help. And of course, in the future, if I could help anyone to retain his/her well-deserved rights and if I’m allowed to vote, then I shall vote. Actually, in whichever community allows me to vote, I will study the local politics, speak to friends there and cast my vote.y

I promise to be a more committed part of the society, being aware of collective responsibility. Hope my friends will help me so please dissolve my karma, whoever almighty has given it to me…!

Posted in Betty, TOO! | 26 Comments


Most of you must be aware by now that a notorious club system will be introduced for coffeeshops across the Netherlands from 1 January 2013. In brief, under this system, those who do not live in the Netherlands will not be able even to come inside Betty. Also, those who do live in the Netherlands will have to ‘register’ with us and obtain what is called ‘wietpas‘ even if you do not intend to smoke. Now the negative implications on BLAF are more than obvious.

– Overseas visitors (or at Betty we call them ‘Supernationals’) cannot join BLAF including the next big band from UK ‘You Me Tree’.

– Participating musicians and audience have to go through ‘registering process’, which is in my eyes violation of privacy.

– There will be no chance that someone happens to pass by, hears the music, pops in and sing one great…

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I Am Not Lefthanded – Boats (Swept Away)

Artist: I Am Not Lefthanded

Song: Boats (Swept Away)

Album: Time To Leave

Website: Jamendo

License: cc-by-nc-sa

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MusicMessage! Join us for 3 hours of free music. The show will be live from 7pm Amsterdam (NL) local time! (CEST) Tracks and links will be available on twitter and please search for the tag: #cchits All the tracks played can be found and voted for! At the day of the show you can find them on

Next show: 04-September-2011 at 7 pm CEST (Amsterdam)

Find the show here:

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On the move!

Thank you for visiting the Betty, TOO! blog!

Please note that we moved to a new (Internet) address. You can find us now at:

All post from the past are available and much more! See you there 🙂

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Using the tram in Amsterdam?

I have found a easy guide to Amsterdam public transport for tourists.
Fun guide through Amsterdam is a rather young blog, with lots of tips for the (smoking) tourist. Make sure you check it frequently for tips about Amsterdam!

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Since the end of the last year, we have had many queries from friends all over the world on possible restriction on our business. Sorry, but I have to confess that I have not been studying hard enough so that I can tell you exactly what’ s going on within the current Dutch government in relation to possible implementation of so called ‘Wietpas’. I will list some links from respectable organizations so that you can keep yourselves up-to-date if you want (If you are not familiar with the Dutch language, make use of googletranslate like I do). The following is to my best knowledge of what’s going on and what I think about it.

Various media first reported late last year that the current Dutch CENTRAL government planned to introduce so called ‘Wietpas (Weed pass)’. The media explained that, for example, you would need a pass to make a purchase in our shop and more importantly, in order to obtain this pass, you have to be a Dutch resident.

This means that people visiting Amsterdam from outside the country will not be able to come to our shops and many others to experience the unique culture.  This also naturally means that, any businesses in Holland which currently benefit from tourism (including hotels, souvenir shops, transports and the rest you name it), will suffer because of the potential significant decrease in number of people visiting the country.

In the past, the central governments have tried to restrict our business in different ways but none of the attempts have had significant impacts, not at least in Amsterdam. However this time, we were more concerned because the government managed reach wider audience with tougher messages via media (although, we, as the business owners have never heard from them directly so far). We started hearing from our friends across the globe asking what’ s going on while some Dutch media even reported that the government said that, if a pilot scheme in the south of Holland does not work well, they would shut down all the businesses across the country altogether.

So I was rather nervous when I first heard the news in December last year. I was thinking about my next possible careers including bar business combined with laundry and karaoke facilities. I also decided to join BCD, a lobby organization for our business community to obtain more direct and up-to-date information as they have been in close contact with Den Haag on various matters which concern our business community. I also thought that joining them might give me a better opportunity to have my voice heard rather than jumping up and down on facebook or on this blog page.

Meanwhile, the media started reporting that, quite a few LOCAL governments in Holland including those in the south started showing their oppositions. It is interesting that the local governments in the south of Holland have been amongst the first ones to voice their concerns over the implementation of the pass system because, as far as I understand, the system has been designed particularly to ‘protect’ these regions from those who come from outside Holland to make purchase and ‘disturb’ the local community. The local authorities in the area seem to see many other aspects to the thriving businesses including the positive ones.

In Amsterdam, the local government has not had a final say yet but as many parties including criminology specialists believe that the situation in Amsterdam is completely different as majority of tourists who come to enjoy the custom and culture are not interested in invading the city with big ambition of drug cmuggling. They come for the unique experience for a short period before returning to their respective country only with sweet memories.

It is my understanding that the CENTRAL government can push through their policy regardless of the stances of the LOCAL governments. Therefore numerous reports on the local governments’ s rejections to the concept of the pass system makes me optimistic but only cautiously. The central government has failed to deliver a more clear guidline by the end of the last month as they promised. Meanwhile, there have been discussions over various implications including legal ones as well as the financial ones that the implementation may have.

It therefore seems to me that, even if the current Dutch central government is to impose any sort of restriction, it will probably be long time ahead and meanwhile, we will carry on with our business as usual. Don’t worry that we may not exist anymore. Please come and visit us, have a good time and enjoy freedom with self-discipline and responsibility.

The current prime minister is reported to have said something like that he is fed up with coffeeshops which is a symbol of nostalgia for the 60′ s. I think the complete opposite. In principle, having some liscenced businesses is a forward-looking pragmatic solution for various problems which modern societies face and if you look at the developments in United States and other regions, it is possible to say that the Dutch system can be one of the more progressive ones and it is certainly not a retrospective yearning like the prime minister says . We now have an even stronger sense of mission to run our business to prove that. I hope you share the same thought and help us remain a part of great heritage of Amsterdam.

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Rob Warren on Jamendo

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