Marijuana plants
Marijuana plants Photo by Getty
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It isn't just a rumor: Israel really is drying out. Not even the most seasoned smokers can recall a dry spell like this.

If you are one of a significant proportion of Israelis that regularly flouts the law to use marijuana, you may be experiencing attacks of nerves, sleepless nights, mood swings and a general lack of get up and go. Why? Reasons for this year's grass shortage are several: A slew of successful drugs busts by the police and border guard; cooperation between Egyptian cartels trying to boost profits; a dearth of growers; low rainfall. Conspiracy theorists even claim a secret government program to combat apathy and stir the nation's fighting spirit.

Whatever the reason, the cost of getting high in Israel has never been higher.

Dark times are stimulating users' creative talents. It only takes a quick search on 'Youtube' for the terms "Israel is drying out" – better known in non-toking circles as the slogan of a government water-saving campaign – or "Elimelech Duda", a satirical singing puppet, to get a taste of the crisis facing Israel's potheads.

When it comes to market forces, the grass market is no exception. With demand is high and supply low prices are through the roof, soaring by several hundred per cent. Desperate consumers are paying rich man's prices for poor man's goods.

Z, a Tel Aviv dealer, commiserates: "In the last few months I've been getting dozens of calls every day. A month ago I stopped answering. All my sources are dry and even I've stopped smoking every day. My customers – from every segment of the population, are willing to pay massive sums. Unfortunately, I've got nothing to offer them."

N, a heavy smoker, is at her wits' end: "Before the shortage I paid a fair price for a decent bagful – but now it's bankrupting me. It's tricky, if not impossible, to score in the city and when you do find someone who's selling, prices are astronomical. Only the hydroponics lot are managing to keep ahead of the drought – but they're almost a closed group. A lot of my friends have decided that the only option is to grow their own. As long as the police stay out of the way, in three or four months' time this should all be over."

Sellers' market: How Israel's marijuana prices have rocketed

Grass:

  • Pre-drought price: NIS 150 for 50 grams
  • Today: NIS 35 per gram

Hashish:

  • Pre-drought: NIS 200 for 10 grams
  • Today: NIS 500 for 10 grams

Hydro (hydroponic marijuana):

  • Pre-drought: NIS 45 per gram
  • Today: NIS 110 per gram

Chares (high-grade Indian hashish):

  • Pre-drought: NIS 450 for 10 grams
  • Today: NIS 800 for 10 grams