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Cover image of High Times'
premiere issue, Summer 1974.
High Times is a New York-based magazine devoted to cannabis culture. The publication strongly advocates the legalization of cannabis. For a brief period, it moved toward a left-leaning lifestyle magazine under publisher Richard Stratton, who hired John Mailer, Norman Mailer's youngest son, as executive editor. It has since returned to its earlier roots in the cannabis subculture. The current executive editor is Dan Skye and the senior editors are David Bienenstock, Bobby Black and Chris Simunek.
associate publisher Richard Cusick speaking at Seattle Hempfest
The magazine was founded in 1974 by Tom Forcade of the Underground Press Syndicate. High Times was originally modeled on Playboy magazine, except that rather than catering to consumers of recreational sex, it caters to consumers of recreational drugs. Each issue has a centerfold photo, not of a nude woman, but typically of a choice grade of cannabis plant. (Although for a brief period during the late 1970s and early '80s, they featured centerfolds dedicated to cocaine.) In 1988, Steven Hager was hired as editor-in-chief. He removed hard drugs from the magazine and began a campaign to encourage personal use and cultivation of cannabis. Hager also founded the Cannabis Cup (the Academy Awards of Marijuana) and the High Times Freedom Fighters (one of the original hemp legalization groups).
The Freedom Fighters began when Hager received an invitation to attend the annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1987. Once one of the country's largest annual legalization events, the Hash Bash, like all other counterculture rallies, was about to die out. Inspired by the art of the Merry Pranksters and Provo, and the historical information of Jack Herer's yet unpublished research, Hager created a band of activists that traveled the country in a psychedelic bus, creating major legalization events across the country, including the Boston Freedom Rally, which quickly became the largest political event in the country, drawing crowds of over 100,000 to Boston Common. In 1990, the magazine released a documentary, Let Freedom Ring, detailing the activities of the group. The film starred Willie Nelson and was directed by Bob Brandel.
Eventually, the Freedom Fighters became targeted by law enforcement. The group's biggest supporter, Rodger Belknap of West Virginia, was jailed, while other members had their homes broken into and membership information removed. After five years of providing free campgrounds and free food to activists attending major rallies, the Freedom Fighter mailing list was turned over to NORML at the annual Hash Bash convention.
Produces regular video podcasts—dubbed as the High Times POTcast—that supplement stories from the monthly magazine.
Recognition and award ceremonies
High Times sponsors numerous different cannabis culture awards:
- The Cannabis Cup for marijuana strains and seeds (in Amsterdam)
- The Stonys for movies and television (in Los Angeles)
- The Doobies for music (in Austin, Texas)
- The World Marijuana Film Festival (in California)
- Freedom Fighter of the Month (and Year) a spin-off from the High Times Freedom Fighters
- Counterculture Hall of Fame Award (in Amsterdam)
- STASH Awards for grow technology (September issues)
- Seed Bank Hall of Fame (October 2007, August 2009)
- The World Stoner Games
- The Miss High Times Pageant (held in New York City on April 20)
- Produced the 1978 documentary D.O.A., directed by Lech Kowalski
- Produced the 1989 documentary Chef RA Escapes Babylon directed by Scott Kennedy
- Produced the 1990 documentary Let Freedom Ring, starring Willie Nelson, Gatewood Galbraith, Chef RA and the Soul Assassins, directed by Bob Brandel
- Produced the 1995 documentary 8th Cannabis Cup, starring the Cannabis Cup Band, directed by Beth Lasch
- Produced the 1996 documentary 9th Cannabis Cup, starring John Trudell and Murphy's Law, directed by John Viet
- Produced the 1999 documentary 11th Cannabis Cup, starring John Sinclair and the Blues Scholars, directed by Steven Hager
- Produced the 2000 documentary Grow Secrets of the Dutch Masters directed by Steven Hager
- Co-produced the 2002 indie comedy Potluck, featuring Frank Adonis, Theo Kogan, Jason Mewes and Tommy Chong and directed by Alison Thompson
- Produced the 2003 documentary High Times Presents The Cannabis Cup directed by Steven Hager , distributed by Koch Entertainment
- Produced the 2003 documentary Ganja Gourmet directed by David Bienenstock and starring Chef RA
- Produced the 2005 documentary Jorge Cervantes Ultimate Grow DVD, directed by David Bienenstock
- Produced the 2008 documentary, Miss High Times Swimsuit Video, directed by Nick Krasnic
- Produced the 2008 documentary, 20th Cannabis Cup, directed by Guy Fiorita and featuring Red Man and the High Times staff
High Times Records has released one album, a compilation CD called High Times Presents THC Vol. 1. The tracklisting is:
- Intro – Lord Sear
- Bart Burnt – The High & Mighty
- High Times – Black Moon/Starang Wondah/Sean Price/Top Dog
- Something About Mary – Serial Rhyme Killers
- Sweet Dreams – Intoxicated Demons
- Roll Up – Shabaam Sahdeeq/Steele
- Puff, Puff, Pass – HOM
- Bomb Tree – Defari
- Get You Head Right – Afu-Ra
- Sticky Green – The Pharcyde
- Big Green Buds – J-Ro/Phil Tha Agony/Chocolate Tye
- My Favorite Ladies – MF Doom
- Escape – Ripshop
- Take A Hit – Lootpack
- So High (G-13) – RZA/Timbo King
- Bienenstock, David (2008). The Official High Times Pot Smoker's Handbook. High Times Books. ISBN 978-0811862059.
- Hager, Steven (2002). Adventures in the Counterculture: From Hip Hop to High Times. High Times Books. ISBN 1893010147.
- Krassner, Paul (2001). Psychedelic Trips for the Mind. High Times Books/ editor: Steven Hager. ISBN 1893010074.
- Eudaley, Chris (2000). How to Be a Pot Star Like Me: What Every Marijuana Enthusiast Should Know. High Times Books. ISBN 1893010066.
- Krassner, Paul; foreword by Harlan Ellison (1999). Pot Stories for the Soul. High Times Books/ editor: Steven Hager. ISBN 1893010023.
- Gaskin, Stephen (1998). Cannabis Spirituality: Including 13 Guidelines for Sanity and Safety. High Times Books/ editor Steven Hager. ISBN 0964785862.
- The High Times Encyclopedia of Recreational Drugs. Stonehill Pub Co. 1978. ISBN 0883730820.
In 2004 Annie Nocenti and Ruth Baldwin edited The High Times Reader, a collection from past issues of High Times, with an introduction by Paul Krassner. Writers included Al Aronowitz, George Barkin, Ann Louis Barsach, Chip Berlet, Steve Bloom, Michael Bloomfield, Victor Bockris, William S. Burroughs, Mark Christensen, Ed Dwyer, Bruce Eisner, David Enders, Thomas King Forcade, Andrew Kowl, Bruce Jay Friedman, Josh Alan Friedman, Kinky Friedman, Steven Hager, Debbie “Blondie” Harry, J. Hoberman, Mark Jacobson, David Katz, Paul Krassner, Dean Latimer, Carlo McCormick, Barry Miles, Cookie Mueller, Glenn O’Brien, Joey Ramone, Ron Rosenbaum, Jerry Rubin, Luc Sante, Larry “Ratso” Sloman, Terry Southern, Peter Stafford, Richard Stratton, Teun Voeten, Andy Warhol, Andrew Weil, Mike Wilmington, Robert Anton Wilson, and Frank Zappa.
In 2007, Hager produced a reality TV show based around the High Times offices, titled High Times Office. The show's 12 episodes culminated at the 20th Cannabis Cup, where Big Apple Seeds from Brooklyn, New York won a blind taste test against DNA Seeds that was judged by Robert Connell Clarke. It was later revealed in High Times that Doc and Dom, the owners of Big Apple Seeds, were actors, and their entry, Oookie Kabuki, was actually Nevil's Haze purchased in Amsterdam from a pot broker with a good nose for weed.
Other writers for High Times have included Chef Ra, Charles Bukowski, Truman Capote, A. Craig Copetas, Senior Cultivation Editor Danny Danko, Nico Escondido, Samuel R. Delany, Michael Foldes, Stephen Gaskin, Peter Gorman, Steven Hager, James Horwitz, Dennis King, William Levy, Ed Rosenthal, Hunter S. Thompson, Peter Tosh, Valerie Vande Panne, Alan Cabal, Dr. Andrew Weil, and Andrew Kowl.
Over the years numerous celebrities have been interviewed by or appeared on the cover of High Times.
List of celebrities appearing in High Times:
References in pop culture
- High Times is featured in the song "Mexican Wine" by Fountains of Wayne. A pilot states that he got fired for reading the magazine, with background vocals saying "I was so high".
- High Times is also featured in the songs "Kings Blend", "Gone Git High", and a couple others by Kottonmouth Kings.
- The song "High Times" by Hip Hop Rap group Cypress Hill contains the lyric, "We got the High Times cover shows you how to roll a blunt".
- In the now defunct WCW, the tag team KroniK used a double chokeslam called the High Times as their team finishing move.
- In the movie Road Trip, Paulo Costanzo's character Rubin Carver went on to invent a highly-potent type of marijuana that is undetectable by drug tests and was named "High Times" Man of the Year.
- In the movie Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, the two main characters are attempting to get to Amsterdam where one character's girlfriend is modeling to be in High Times Magazine.
- In the film Superhero Movie, the main character is seen on the cover of High Times.
- On the television show The Simpsons, Homer is seen reading a magazine called Pie Times.
- The High Times editorial staff has been parodied by the writers at CollegeHumor.com.
- In the movie Next Friday Ice Cube is rolling a joint with High Times on his lap.
- In the Canadian TV series "Trailer Park Boys" , Ricky points out that Sebastian Bach was on the cover of High Times at an autograph signing as a fan is getting Bach to sign the issue of the magazine.
- High Times is referenced in the song "Wiid" by MC Chris.
- Annie Nocenti and Ruth Baldwin, eds., The High Times Reader, Thunder's Mouth, Nation Books, 2004 ISBN 1-56025-624-9.