High Times magazine sells to Bob Marley’s son, others

www.sfchronicle.com
Date:
Thursday, Jun 1, 2017

The youngest son of reggae star Bob Marley as well as wealthy legal pot sellers from Colorado have taken control of High Times magazine, the storied counterculture media brand known around the world. A consortium of entertainment and cannabis veterans, including musician Damian Marley and pioneers from Colorado pot shop chain Denver Relief, acquired a controlling interest in High Times, at a valuation of $70 million, High Times’ new chief executive told The Chronicle Wednesday. The deal includes websites, book publishing and the influential Cannabis Cup trade shows and competitions. “High Times is the Coca-Cola of cannabis,” said CEO Adam Levin, founder of Los Angeles investment firm Oreva Capital, who led the acquisition. Privately held by the same owners or their heirs since it was founded by an outlaw cannabis smuggler in 1974, High Times and its New York parent company, Trans-High Corp., cater to an audience hungry for the magazine’s mix of primo pot, exotic adventures, radical politics and wild sex. “High Times is like the North Star that all the other magazines followed,” said media analyst Samir Husni, founder of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. “It’s a sign of the times,” said Tommy Chong, the comedian who has appeared on High Times’ cover a record eight times. Other investors include Isaac Dietrich, founder of cannabis social media site MassRoots, and Nick Kovacevich, CEO of Kush Bottles, a cannabis packaging company. “I see dozens of deals come across my desk every day,” said Ean Seeb, founding partner of Denver Relief who, along with some co-workers, is a member of the new owner group. Pairing the name with the strategy to expand both the world famous Cannabis Cup and the magazine was an easy decision. High Times has recently tried to temper its outlaw image to become a lifestyle brand, but has suffered board and management upheaval, including the abrupt 2015 firing of David Kohl, a veteran media executive who filed a $6 million breach-of-employment lawsuit that’s still pending.

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