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Bob Marley's Son Among Investors Taking Over 'High Times' Magazine

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Damian Marley. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
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It wasn't that long ago when marijuana was seen as a vice that mostly took place in your parents' converted basement. Now, as the legalization of recreational pot use has gained wider acceptance, weed has taken on new life as an uncharted business venture. Which is also to say that High Times, a magazine about marijuana, has gone from being a hobbyist's publication to something much more. As profiled by the New York Times, the magazine is making attempts to broaden its appeal.

“High Times isn’t just for historically self-identified stoners anymore,” Larry Linietsky, a former executive at Universal Music Group who became the publication's chief operating officer, told the New York Times. “We are appealing to everyone who likes cannabis, or is at least curious about it, both recreationally and for medicinal use. That could be your boss, your neighbor or even your grandmother.”

High Times is set for a renaissance, more than 40 years after its founding in 1974. So it's no surprise that the magazine has been scooped up by a new team of eager investors. You know what's also not surprising? That the team includes Damian Marley, the youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley, who's been on the cover of High Times on a number of occasions. As reported at L.A. Biz, Marley and a group of investors have bought a majority stake in the company; the publication is said to be valued at $70 million. The group is led by Adam Levin, founder of the investment firm Oreva Capital.

Considering how High Times was founded as a counterculture read, we'd imagine that some longtime readers may be wary of the deal, and any future changes that it portends. If so, Levin's statements in a release won't quell any suspicions. “I think most would agree it was not executing business at max potential under the legacy framework established by the founders,” said Levin. “We are going to build on the strong base they created to bring High Times from the authority in the counterculture movement to a modern media enterprise.” He also said that “High Times is the Coca-Cola of cannabis," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Uh oh(?)

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The New York Times adds that Levin will become chief executive of High Times Holding Co.

As detailed at Forbes, High Times' business model isn't immediately apparent—it's a niche publication after all. The magazine has a circulation of 236,000 monthly subscribers, which puts it behind other tightly-focused magazines like Food & Wine, which has nearly a million monthly subscribers. Instead, the publication relies on its digital properties, which get approximately 20 million unique clicks on a monthly basis. Also, they host events such as The Cannabis Cup; these happenings account for 75% of the company's revenue.

"We were fairly small without a lot of resources. Now we have the backing to go big and expand on the things we've been doing," said long-time employee Danny Danko, according to Forbes. "We've always had this underground mentality and grass roots organization, now we have the funding to go out and do bigger things.”

High Times moved its headquarters from New York To Los Angeles in January.