By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Both dailies tell the Weekly that the material was used without permission or payment, and each newspaper plans to issue a cease-and-desist letter to JEMM.
"It seems like they lack standards and ethics," says Daily News Executive Editor Catalina Garcia. "They clearly didn't bother to ask. You just don't do that."
Kush launched its Los Angeles flagship edition last year from its elegant two-story office building in Calabasas, and has already expanded to Colorado, with plans to be in 13 states before 2011.
The magazine won national media attention in August, when the issue included coupons for free marijuana, in amounts of one-eighth of an ounce and less, and other gifts from advertiser the Rainforest Collective.
Lerner, a film producer on occasion (2007's Three Days to Vegas) and publisher of a magazine for parents, sees Kush's role as important in the debate over drugs. "You have the fiduciary responsibility to make sure this industry is not taken in ill light and represented improperly, which will set the industry back," he warns. "The publication does not allow nudity, okay? The publication never mentions the word marijuana on its cover, never has a bong on its cover, never has a joint on the cover."
Thus far, only a handful of seasoned journalists have been involved in any of these magazines, and it often shows. Not everyone is impressed. Tina Dupuy, a media blogger for MediaBistro.com's Fishbowl L.A. (and an L.A. Weekly contributor), served briefly as a columnist for Kush, happily receiving a fee she said was $50 higher than the L.A. Times would pay for a similar essay.
But her pieces seemed to run without close editing. And there was never any feedback from readers. Dupuy, a former comic, was not convinced there was much to be explored beyond " 'Here's some real good weed' and 'Here's how you make a bong out of an apple.' What else is there?" she asks.
For 35 years as the nation's definitive marijuana magazine, High Times has celebrated America's reefer madness, mingling quasipornographic pictorials of marijuana plants with articles by the likes of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Paul Krassner. Next month, the New York–based magazine launches High Times Medical Marijuana, a quarterly that will sell at newsstands for $5.99, aimed largely at California and Colorado.
"It's partly a recognition of what's happening on the West Coast and being a part of it," says Senior Editor David Bienenstock, soon to become the magazine's West Coast editor. He would not critique L.A.'s free pot magazines but did say, "If you were to do a side-by-side comparison between High Times and what you can get locally, I would welcome that."
There is also the coming launch of Marijuana Business Reporter, a trade publication for dispensaries, collectives and ancillary businesses across th e 14 states where medicinal pot is in the process of legalization. The online edition debuts in February, with a print component still to be determined.
"We're putting together a collection of veteran journalists and will cover this emerging industry in a style different from the various lifestyle publications that are out there," explains Editor in Chief Bruce Haring, a longtime business and music journalist. "The marijuana business is moving from its Wild West days toward the mainstream, and it's time for business journalism to address its needs."
It's further evidence of a larger pot universe reaching into the mainstream. As a sign of that seriousness, 420 Times Editor Brian intends to become involved in the local journalism community, and is anxious to join the L.A. Press Club. "I tell some of these dispensaries, 'You should join the chamber of commerce, to let people know what you're doing, to get involved with the community,' " Brian says. "They're always a little taken aback by that."
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