In Australia it’s written into legislation that anybody with a police record with regard to cannabis or has been known to be involved in the black market is automatically excluded from participating in the regulated market.

How they expect to move from one to another never mind the pointlessness of trying to re-invent the wheel is a mystery to us.

Here’s a story from Israel that places the issue in sharp relief. A young technologist creates an app that connects the black market with buyers.

The app is growing exponentially.

How is it brought into the regulated market?

and… Should the creator of the app be penalized for originally working in the black market?

Currently the creator lives remotely because of the legal status of recreational cannabis in Israel write

His guiding philosophy is that everyone in the world should have access to cannabis, never mind what the local law may be. And that’s served as the inspiration for his company Telegrass, an app which connects weed consumers with black market dealers in Israel.

Today, it has about 150,000 users in the country, where most everyone, beside Israel’s 25,000 medical marijuana patients, must resort to buying illegal weed. Israel has among the world’s highest ratios of weed smokers—27 percent of the population between 18 and 65 toked up in the past year.

In its current iteration, Telegrass runs on the encrypted messaging app Telegram (which is also used by ISIS and others who want to communicate anonymously). The messages are not only encrypted but can be programmed to be erased after they’re sent. Users of the platform may identify themselves by usernames rather than their actual names.

Similar to a WhatsApp group, Telegrass offers a range of subgroups, updated every few minutes, where dealers market their product through images, strain names, local geography, and prices. All in all, the platform houses about 30 channels, including one in English, dedicated only to dealing different types or quantities of weed products, as well as 60 other channels for things such as community reviews, growing tips, activism, legal advice, and more.

As for the obvious risks inherent in Telegrass, Silver is unabashedly nonchalant about running what’s essentially a crime organization. With dual Israeli-US citizenship (thanks to his American father), Silver has spent the past two and a half years bouncing around the States, from California to Colorado to New York, spearheading Telegrass remotely. He knows that going home to Israel would mean facing law enforcement.

Unlike the average kingpin, Silver’s intentions with Telegrass are largely ideological. Though running the platform provides a modest income for the nomadic Israeli expat, Telegrass is more so a means for Silver to advance weed legalization. For him, it’s personal.

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