High Times, one of the oldest cannabis-centric media companies, was acquired by a group of investors including Damian Marley.
Venture capitalist Adam Levin led the $US70 million acquisition through his new firm, Oreva Capital, partnering with Damian Marley’s newly-public company Stony Hill, Ean Seeb, the founder of Denver Relief Consulting, a Colorado dispensary, and 17 other partners in the cannabis, real estate, and technology space.
“High Times, to me, is the Coca-Cola of the industry,” Levin told Business Insider. “And obviously, cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries today.”
Damian Marley, Bob Marley’s son as well as a musician and cannabis investor, said he had used High Times when he was “growing herb” in high school to differentiate between male and female plants (the female plants produce THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis).
“High Times also had me daydreaming of so many beautiful strains that at the time I had not yet had the chance to experience,” Marley said in a statement. “It is now an honour to be a part of the High Times legacy that I’ve been a fan of for so many years.”
Levin will take over as CEO with plans to re-build the brand — it moved its headquarters to Los Angeles in January — to capture what he says is High Times’ “brand equity” with events like the Cannabis Cup. The company will operate as High Times Holding Company (HTHC).
“To be the front-and-center of an industry with a brand that hasn’t been monetized, that’s the appeal,” Levin said, discussing his plans to transition High Times from a print business to a more “diversified” digital media and events company.
“At the end of the day, we’re the trusted brand to a consumer audience that’s growing on a day-to-day basis and massively evolving from the typical stoner audience, to an everyday consumer type of audience,” Levin said.
“High Times is the brand that they trust, and High Times is the brand that they see the affiliation with and that they identify with,” he added.
Levin has a background buying what he says are “undervalued” media companies through his firm, Vert Capital.
Buying High Times was a “unique opportunity,” Levin said, “and it’s a unique opportunity at the right time in history.”
Cannabis, both adult use and medical, is legal in eight states with five states voting to legalise during the November election. Legalization will also be debated in Vermont during a special House session this summer, with more states planning to introduce legislation in the coming months.
The federal government classifies cannabis a Schedule 1 drug, putting it in the same category as heroin — and the government can restrict cross-state shipment and financing as a result.
High Times was founded in 1974 in New York City as an alternative magazine devoted to cannabis. It has a print circulation of 236,000 subscriptions and reaches 20 million unique views with its digital presence, as of this year.