Pubdate: Tue, 02 Sep 2014
Source: New Haven Register (CT)
Copyright: 2014 The Associated Press
Page: B4


(AP) - Go ahead, get the jokes out of your system. The staff of High 
Times, the counterculture drug magazine, has heard them all before.

For 40 years, they've put up with stoner quips and stereotypes. 
"People have this idea that we sit around and get high all day," says 
Danny Danko, the magazine's senior cultivation editor and author of 
its field guide to marijuana strains.

But as High Times celebrates its 40th anniversary with a special 
November issue that comes out Tuesday and is the largest in its 
history, the laughs are fewer and further between.

What started as an experiment by a mercurial provocateur and 
underground publisher has blossomed into an established brand, 
offering everything from licensing partnerships and an ever-expanding 
domestic events business to a just-launched private-equity fund. 
Along the way, something else changed: The magazine's radical reason 
for being has stopped feeling so radical, even if the magazine itself hasn't.

"There's a feeling like now is our time in the sun," said the editor 
in chief, Chris Simunek.

Associate Publisher Rick Cusick agreed: "For 40 years, if you stay in 
one spot, eventually the world comes around to where you are."

The magazine was launched in the spring of 1974 by Thomas Forcade, 
who hoped to create a Playboy for drugs and the counterculture. 
"We're fundamentally and seriously concerned with breakthroughs in 
human consciousness and pleasure," Ed Dwyer, the founding editor, 
said in a news release celebrating the first issue's success.

And although High Times launched with a focus on all drugs, the 
magazine has always held pot in special regard. "That was always one 
of the underpinnings of the magazine, that press for legalization," Dwyer said.

The first issue outlined research showing what a "wonder drug" 
marijuana was, with benefits for asthmatics and glaucoma patients. 
Early issues featured stories such as "How to Make a Fortune After 
Legalization" and highlighted the 10 best planes for the 
"dope-smuggling pilot."

For most of the magazine's forty years, marijuana was completely 
illegal. But that changed in 1996, when voters in California approved 
the nation's first medical-marijuana law. Other states followed, and 
today 23 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of medical 

Colorado and Washington state launched their historic experiments in 
legalization for recreational use this year, and voters in Oregon, 
Alaska and the District of Columbia will consider joining them this 
fall. Last year, for the first time in decades of polling on the 
question, both Pew and Gallup found a majority of Americans supported 
marijuana legalization.

High Times is looking to take advantage of that shift.

Editorial Director Dan Skye, whose name is a pseudonym, said the 
magazine is in the process of moving to larger offices from its 
current digs in midtown Manhattan.

The company said the anniversary edition has 164 pages - nearly half 
of them advertisements for potgrowing accessories, vaporizers and 
other paraphernalia. And Web traffic has grown exponentially this 
year, with June traffic peaking at more than 5 million visitors, 
according to Skye.

As a business, the magazine sees itself catering to the marijuana 
connoisseur interested in the latest growth techniques, strains and 
technologies. This fall, the company will hold its 27th annual 
Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, a trade show and expo for the industry 
that includes a judging competition.

High Times continues to run big, glossy centerfolds of marijuana 
plants and to publish price quotes for various cities around the 
world, a feature included in the very first issue and known as Trans 
High Market Quotations. Depending on quality and provenance, the 
price for an ounce of marijuana ranged from $10 to $50 along the 
five-city "Acela corridor" in the spring of 1974, when the magazine 
launched. Today, the Strawberry Cough strain goes for $400 per ounce 
in New York, according to the 40th anniversary issue.

High Times is planning to convert its field guide to marijuana 
strains into a smartphone app - a Zagat guide for pot, said Mary 
McEvoy, the magazine's publisher. Then there's the private equity 
fund the company is launching to connect investors with pot start-ups.

"I think Tom Forcade would be very pleased with what they're doing, 
for example, with this fund," said Dwyer, the founding editor.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom