From the Archives: A Brief History of High Times (2019)

in Culture

By Mike Gianakos

Against all odds, High Times became an internationally known magazine, now celebrating 45 years of continuous publication with more than 500 issues. There is no question that the publication far exceeded the wildest, most ambitious expectations of the men and women who first introduced it to the world back in the mid-1970s.

High Times was founded in 1974 by the political activist and ace marijuana smuggler Thomas King Forcade. Forcade, it is said, was the first activist to use pieing as an act of protest, back in 1970. He was a brilliant and savvy media mind who co-founded and ran the Underground Press Syndicate, a network of counterculture publications, in the late 1960s. And he kept some of those magazines afloat, just as he later did with High Times during its lean years, with proceeds from his smuggling activities.

When Forcade conceived of High Times, it was, according to legend, intended as a one-off spoof of Playboy, with cannabis standing in for scantily clad women. However, some believe that Forcade’s mission in creating this magazine was no joke—perhaps even a protest against Richard Nixon’s war on weed. Nixon, of course, hated marijuana and, even more so, marijuana smokers (he would have absolutely despised a marijuana magazine being funded by pot-smuggling profits). His Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified cannabis as a Schedule I drug with a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value, and it’s the reason pot is still federally illegal today.

While it’s likely that Forcade would have been excited by the opportunity to create something that would both give a platform to the much-maligned marijuana plant and agitate his foes, it’s hard to believe he could have had any inkling of the almost immediate sensation High Times was about to become. …

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Author: High Times / High Times

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