Hightimes Holding Corp., the parent of High Times magazine, has suspended publication of the storied monthly print edition due to Covid-19.
Hightimes has not published a magazine for about four months and counting, a troubling sign for the grandaddy of all marijuana media.
“Unfortunately, due to the pandemic we’ve had to halt printing, but of course we intend to resume once the climate allows,” Jon Cappetta, Hightimes VP of content, tells CelebStoner. “I anticipate we should have news about the return later this month. I was hoping by the end of June but with the numbers spiking again we couldn’t. I don’t want to make a call we’d have to walk back.”
The current publication hiatus marks the longest stretch without new print issues since the magazine was launched in 1974 by Tom Forcade.
The last issue, featuring a huge cannabis plant on the cover (see above), is dated April 2020. The editorial staff, including Mike Gianakis and Danny Danko, were laid off in March.
Once the go-to source for cannabis information, High Times has faced an onslaught of competition in recent years both on the newsstand and on the web. This led the company to diversify by staging its branded Cannabis Cup in states where it's legal. But now those events have ground to a halt as well.
“High Times had an iconic brand for so long,” says Ronit Pinto, publisher of New York based Honeysuckle and Honey Pot magazines. “They were pioneers and were able to maintain a super rebellious spirit. It was an outlet for people and it had a subculture that advertisers wanted to speak to. But over time, its parent company has gotten more corporate.”
Trans High Corporation, which owned High Times, was acquired by Adam Levin and other investors for $70 million in 2017 and rebrandng Hightimes Holding. The company had long been privately held by Forcade’s family and a board of trustees and later directors (Forcade died in 1978). Executive chairman Levin comes from the world of high finance and hedge funds.
“Unfortunately, due to the pandemic we’ve had to halt printing, but of course we intend to resume once the climate allows,” says Jon Cappetta, Hightimes VP of content. “I anticipate we should have news about the return later this month. I was hoping by the end of June but with the numbers spiking again we couldn’t. I don’t want to make a call we’d have to walk back.”
The company has been trying to go public for about two years. On July 9, the Securities and Exchange Commission has told the company to suspend stock sales of its Reg A IPO because it hasn’t filed updated financial information, as reported by Benzinga. The company said in a filing its financial statements would be delayed because of the impact of Covid-19. The stock sale has been extended again, this time to September.
High Times continues to keep up advertising its sale of shares at $11 each in email blasts, but the stock has yet to be listed on the OTC or any other exchange. Assuming a planned forward 11-to-1 stock split, the company’s shares now sell for $1 each, with a minimum investment of $550. The company has raised about $15 million out of a $50 million target in the IPO, which appears to be stalled for now.
Hightimes is on its third CEO in a year. The new CEO Peter Horvath came aboard in May, replacing Stormy Simon who replaced Kraig Fox. Horvath has background in retail, not media.
As former CEO of Green Growth Brands, he led an effort to get CBD products on the shelves in shopping malls. His long resume also includes senior positions at American Eagle Outfitters and Victoria’s Secret.
The main focus of Hightimes at the moment appears to be pushing into the retail dispensary business by agreeing to buy up locations in the California market and elsewhere. However, this effort appears to have been stalled like many other plans that have gone up in smoke for the legendary brand over the last few difficult years.
The magazine, once prominently displayed on New York newsstands in New York City and at Barnes & Noble and other chains, has been much harder to find in recent years. Now it may be gone for good.