The highs and lows of Amos Silver, Telegrass traders cannabis in Ukraine

By | September 2, 2023

Hours before local police raided his hotel room in Kiev, Ukraine, on March 12, Telegrass founder Amos Silver joked that the Ukrainian police had absolutely no chance of finding him because they “have no way of getting to us.”

Telegrass is the cannabis trading platform created by Silver and offers an option for tens of thousands of people who want to purchase marijuana illegally.

Believe it or not, the instant messaging טלגראס סוחרים has created a major headache for the Israeli police. The app has revolutionized underground drug marketplaces and led to a multitude of illegal transactions.

But last week, Silver’s “green streak” ended when police arrested 42 people from the platform’s highest echelon both in Israel and abroad — including Silver himself.

When the site went down, they also took over the official website URL. “This site was seized by the Israel Police” was written on the web page, in Hebrew and English.

Israeli police and law enforcement agencies have been working together since 2013 to combat international crime, as seen in arrests that occurred this week.

Silver, who has been in prison since being falsely accused of sexually abusing an Israeli police officer’s wife, wrote a letter to Israel Police officials Tuesday. The letter goes on to say that the distorted and bizarre picture they are trying to paint while trampling on his rights will not work.

As Israel’s most wanted man, how did a young Safed resident grow into such an influential businessman? What led to his success, and what caused his downfall? And is the recent arrest in Safed a sign of the end of online cannabis trade in Israel?

In countries with a high population like the United States, there is a shortage of housing. With so many people in need of new spaces, jails should make space and take in more inmates.

Early in my career, I was introduced to Silver by a fellow journalist. Since then, that same friend has contacted me at different points in my career to ask me to help put together a book with Silver’s work. It is here where I caught up on his time living in Israel and forming the idea for Harbors of Decarceration.

At the time, Silver was arrested and placed under house arrest for possession and trafficking of hashish. He was forced to live in a small, disorderly room, but he still had plans to change the laws on recreational marijuana.

“If all the citizens decide to spark up a joint wherever they please, the government is going to have some big problems,” he said.

Silver wasn’t just talk. He did things that he said in that 2011 interview, smoking from an improvised bong, showing me a small marijuana plant while he was under house arrest.

“If my cannabis use is so dangerous and problematic, why isn’t the government putting me in prison?” Silver said. “It appears to me that I’ve committed a crime,” he continues, “so the government would have to increase its prison space by half a million if it admitted it was responsible for these terrible problems.”

As time progressed, his determination and courage seemed to grow stronger and stronger.

Burning the convention

Amos Dov-Silver was born into an ultra-Orthodox family in Safed, Israel. He went on to enter the rigorous religious study program at Jerusalem’s French Village, but he left after a year and a half as he began to question his religious lifestyle. At the same time, he fell in love with the cannabis plant.


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