Pubdate: Fri, 02 Jun 2017
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2017 The New York Times Company
Author: Daniel Victor


High Times, the magazine that has chronicled the transformation of
marijuana use from an underground vice to a major American business,
said on Thursday that it had been acquired by a group of investors
that includes Damian Marley, son of the reggae star Bob Marley.

The group, led by Adam Levin, the founder of the investment firm Oreva
Capital, bought a controlling interest at a price that values the
magazine at $70 million, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

In a news release, the new ownership group said it planned to expand
the publication's audience and its events business.

"I think most would agree it was not executing business at max
potential under the legacy framework established by the founders," Mr.
Levin, who will become chief executive of High Times Holding Co., said
in a statement. "We are going to build on the strong base they created
to bring High Times from the authority in the counterculture movement
to a modern media enterprise."

The magazine, which in January moved its headquarters to Los Angeles,
had previously been owned by the New York-based Trans High Corp.

Mr. Marley, a reggae artist like his father, noted that he had started
reading High Times in high school. "It is now an honor to be a part of
the High Times legacy that I've been a fan of for so many years," he
said in a statement.

The magazine was founded in 1974 by Tom Forcade as a subversive record
of the marijuana counterculture. Whereas Playboy centerfolds displayed
buxom women, High Times centerfolds displayed beautiful buds. It
offered how-to instructions for growing at home, and even advice on
best practices for smuggling marijuana.

These days, as marijuana acceptance has grown and states continue to
legalize its use, High Times balances lifestyle writing with more
serious coverage of "ganjapreneurs" and the "cannabusiness."

Cannabusiness is booming. In November, voters in California, Maine,
Massachusetts and Nevada decided through ballot measures to legalize
recreational use, joining Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.
More than 20 percent of Americans now live in states where marijuana
use is legal.

A CBS News poll in April showed that 61 percent of Americans supported
legalization. President Trump has said that he is "in favor of medical
marijuana 100 percent" and that the issue should be left to the states.

In a statement, the company said the new ownership group would "review
a backlog of deal opportunities that have accumulated as marijuana has
become more mainstream."

The company said it had 236,000 monthly print subscribers and a digital 
audience of more than 20 million unique visitors a month. But much of 
its revenue comes from events like the Cannabis Cup, a trade show that 
began in 1988 and has expanded to multiple locations.
Correction: June 2, 2017

An earlier version of this article misstated, in one instance, the
amount paid by the investor group that purchased High Times magazine.
As stated elsewhere in the article, the group acquired a controlling
stake that valued the magazine at $70 million; it did not pay $70
miilion. The error was repeated in a capsule summary.
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MAP posted-by: Matt