Marijuana isn’t your grandkids’ drug anymore. One of the early titans of the cannabis industry in America has officially reached middle age.
High Times, the largest cannabis trade publication in the world, hit its 40th birthday this year. It’s a mainstay of the pot scene, but it’s also one of the most successful magazines in America. At a time when publications are folding left and right, that’s saying something.
“So many magazines have gone under, literally thousands of magazines have gone under, and we are thriving,” said editorial director Dan Skye. “It took a long time to get to the kind of recognition that we’re getting right now.”
The magazine was born in 1974 when a rebel humor publication proved popular with stoners. Today it’s one of the biggest sources of marijuana-related news in the world.
“The fact is, High Times has always been an outlaw magazine, and we’re by necessity a political magazine, because we are challenging the government’s position on cannabis,” Skye said.
At 40, the magazine is must reading for any serious stoner and for anyone in the weed industry. And business is booming.
The magazine started this year with 120 pages per edition, and now it’s up to 156 pages, an uptick driven by an increase in ad buys, Skye said. Most publishers are happy to get a “pass-around rate” of two or three to one, while High Times has a rate of five to one.
“That means for every one issue, five pairs of eyes are seeing this,” Skye said. “So we have tremendous reach now.”
High Times is also very popular online, where its website attracted a record 5 million unique visitors in June. Its Facebook page has picked up nearly 4 million “likes.”
“The cannabis industry is coming to us in full force, advertising in our magazine because they know of our clout,” Skye said.
The magazine’s success comes amid a growing push to end cannabis prohibition. Two states have legalized the drug and another 21 allow medical weed. Sixteen states have removed criminal penalties for pot possession without fully legalizing the drug.
Even the federal government is showing signs of reform. To meet the growing demands of researchers, the DEA has announced it will expand the country’s only supply of marijuana for scientific studies.
And the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the anti-drug office that controls access to that supply, has begun slowly opening doors to new research. The agency has long been accused of blocking studies that might uncover beneficial aspects of weed.
Through all that, marijuana has become one of the biggest news stories in America. Not a day goes by when the mainstream media doesn’t mention some new development in politics or the industry. But nobody brings as much knowledge, history, and expertise to the subject as High Times.
“It’s always so funny when people find out High Times has been around for 40 years,” Skye said. “And people who are just beginning to find out about cannabis . . . they’re absolutely blown away that a magazine has been doing this, all these years.”