The fact that Los Angeles is the nation's cannabis capital — there are believed to be more medical dispensaries in L.A. County than there are medical and recreational shops in the entire state of Colorado — must have resonated with the publishers of marijuana's publication of record, High Times.
The magazine is moving operations from New York to L.A. The move, first reported by Crain's New York Business, was confirmed by a High Times publicist. The publication was founded in a Greenwich Village basement in 1974 by ’60s-era activist Thomas King Forçade. His late attorney and friend, Michael Kennedy, told the Nation in 2014 that Forçade smuggled weed from the Caribbean to Florida. “Tom started this magazine with dope money,” Kennedy said.
While marijuana and the hippie culture it fueled were very much a West Coast phenomenon in the 1960s and ’70s, High Times created its own capital of cannabis reportage in the Big Apple. Its editorial offices were a smoke-filled party, and they spawned the Cannabis Cup series of marijuana-strain awards, which launched in Amsterdam and now take place in Northern California, Jamaica and elsewhere. Last year, after being rejected by Denver officials, the publication's main U.S. Cannabis Cup was moved to the National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino.
Perhaps the move foreshadowed the entire High Times relocation here. It wasn't clear if the publication's 30 or so employees would all be heading west, however. Matt Stang, the publication's chief revenue officer, told Crain's: “The center of the cannabis universe has moved to California.”
Legalization across the nation has helped buoy High Times in print and online, according to Crain's, with magazine pages expanding recently from 114 to 160. As the nation's largest medical marijuana market, and soon to be its largest recreational one (pot sales to those 21 or older are set to begin next year, after voters passed Proposition 64 in November), L.A. could present an advertising bonanza to the operation known for its celebrity stoner profiles, how-to-grow stories and features on drug-war injustices.
“It certainly makes sense for them to move to Los Angeles,” says Larry Gross, director of USC's School of Communication. “There's going to be more action in Los Angeles than in New York. There's no question the changes in the legal environment have made it much easier for potential ad money to be available. The number of companies that are going to want to be represented in this new space is probably growing daily.”