High Times Is Sold to Group That Includes Son of Bob Marley
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.
The $70 million sale is the same price The New York Times got when it sold The Boston Globe in 2013, and $15 million more than investors paid for The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com in 2012.