High Times magazine is rolling out to California, leaving its New York City offices for greener — and more tolerant — pastures.
Following the flow of a once-underground economy to a state that now embraces legalized cannabis, High Times has rented a new office in the Mid-Wilshire district of Los Angeles’s “Miracle Mile” and is packing up boxes in the Columbus Circle neighborhood of Manhattan, its home of 43 years.
“The actual business of cannabis is centered in California, going forward,” said Matt Stang, a longtime executive and chief revenue officer at High Times. Unlike New York, which prohibits recreational use and tightly restricts medicinal use, “you have the largest economy in the world for legal cannabis.”
“California is a hotbed of a place where all these creative, interesting and incredible people are coming together to advance the cannabis marketplace,” he said.
Founded in 1974, High Times is a counterculture survivor, with growing tips, music reviews and centerfolds of glittering green buds to decorate the walls of college dorms. Contributors have included such storied writers as Truman Capote, Charles Bukowski and Hunter S. Thompson.
Now the publishing industry has grown competitive, awash with new magazines like Cannabis Venture, Cannabis Now, Cannabis Culture, DOPE magazine, 420 Times, Marijuana Business Daily and THC magazine (“for the cannabis connoisseur”).
And as the landscape is changing, High Times says it needs to move where the action is. It secured a lease on its new office several months ago — and will move in April.
It has already moved its annual Cannabis Cup competitions from Denver to the Golden State. The Southern California contest will be held on April 20 — the “4/20” holiday embraced by pot smokers around the world as “weed day” — in San Bernardino. The Northern California contest will be held in Sonoma over the June 3-4 weekend.
“California has everything — lighting technologies, grow technologies, better storage techniques, new ways to vaporize, microdoses of edibles, cannabis tourism,” Stang said. “You have all these incredible new investors coming on line, pouring their knowledge, time, effort and money into growing this.
“It is all coming together, up and down the state, in amazing ways,” he added.
Published by a privately held corporation, High Times does not disclose circulation or revenue, but it says business has benefited from the end of prohibition. Over the past three years, its online traffic has increased by “high double digits” and the print publication has climbed from 112 to 160 pages in size, Stang said.
It already has several Los Angeles-based TV show and movie projects — scripted and unscripted — in development, and it’s looking at online streaming as a way to reach millions more people.
While some of its 30 employees will move west, it also plans to hire some California talent, Stang said.
It’ll be challenging to move longtime New Yorkers to a land of traffic and sunscreen, he conceded. But it’s worth it.
“This is an incredible moment in this space,” Stang said, “because there is so much going on.”