500 Issues of High Times: A History of the World's Most Notorious Magazine • High Times

Wednesday, Aug 30, 2017

High Times was founded in 1974 by a mercurial and brilliant marijuana smuggler, Thomas King Forçade. The traditional creation story goes that the magazine was intended as just a single issue, a one-off satire of Playboy that substituted pot for naked women, essentially a spoof. However, others insist that Forçade’s intention was more high-minded—a conscious attempt at subverting Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. There’s likely some truth to both theories, but it’s clear that neither Forçade nor his ragtag group of editors could have foreseen that this underground magazine—allegedly conceived during a nitrous-oxide session—would still be publishing 43 years and 500 issues later.

Tom Forçade was a fascinating character. A political agitator and dope dealer who understood the power of the press, he served as head of the Underground Press Syndicate for years and used his marijuana-smuggling operation to fund struggling counterculture publications in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Naturally, High Times was founded and kept afloat during lean years on the pot proceeds that Forçade brought in—an outlaw magazine created by an outlaw.