We smoked with spoke with Amos Silver, the lean, mean, green machine behind Tel Aviv's largest weed delivery app: Telegrass.
Telegrass has become Tel Aviv's worst kept secret. Whether you're a tourist in need or just love your weed, whisper the magic word anywhere within a 10 km radius and you'll be rewarded with a cannabis hookup faster than you can say, "wacky tabacky." So who is this mysterious man behind the ingenious app? 33-year-old Israeli activist and avid smoker, Amos Silver. We caught up to Silver on his uphill battle towards changing the face of Israeli weed culture and staining the White City green, one bud at a time.
What inspired you to create the app?
The market created Telegrass, I just put it all together. It started out small with a Facebook page. When the page became too much pressure, I put together a small team. We started one channel thinking that would solve the problem, but too many people were interested, so we opened more. We now have 30 channels and are currently looking for ways to make the application more user friendly.
How does one become a Telegrass dealer?
Any user can be a dealer, they just need to go through the verification process (I.D., Facebook, selfies). We also ask them to send us a photo containing a large amount of weed so that we can ensure they actually want to sell and are not just sniffing around the group. Plus, with a photo, we have leverage in case they try to steal from us.
What are the benefits of dealing via this platform?
Firstly, exposure. A dealer can promote their weed to thousands of people, unlike anywhere else in the world. Secondly, we can provide protection for both sides: if the dealer does something stingy, we have their details on file, and if the client steals from their dealer, we have the power to put them up on the Wall of Shame.
But isn't it easy for police officers to get onto the app?
Well, we have another channel for undercover cops called: "Undercover Against Humanity." Unfortunately, the channel only made the police angrier, and enabled them to catch me more easily, even outside of Israel.
Is it true that you have a warrant out for your arrest?
I don't know. I do know that the Israeli police is definitely thinking about it.
And that's why you're abroad?
It's partly because of my weed-related criminal record. They also took away my driver's license, deciding that as a weed smoker, I'm not built for the road. In America, I had a clean slate and citizenship, so it was the natural thing to do.
Can you predict the future of weed in Israel?
We are getting somewhere slowly. A year ago, if you wanted to buy weed you had to call your friends and ask them if they knew a guy. Prices never fell below 100 shekels per gram either. Today, especially in Tel Aviv, 5 grams (of the good stuff) can go for 90 shekels per gram or less.
We're helping the weed market expand outside of Tel Aviv, too. People from smaller cities across Israel join Telegrass, discover that there are no dealers in their cities, and take on the dealer role as a result. One of the amazing things about Telegrass is how many people it employs–people who need to eat and pay their rent, people who have kids.
Telegrass has brought together a lot of great minds. I'm proud of my whole team and myself.