By / May 7, 2024

The Fall of an Icon: High Times and the Inevitable Auction of the Iconic Cannabis Brand

High Times, once an iconic magazine and a symbol of the 1970s counterculture, is now facing significant financial challenges. Founded in 1974 by Thomas Forcade, the magazine gained popularity by promoting cannabis culture and attracting the attention of both cannabis enthusiasts and advocates for its legalization. For decades, High Times not only informed but also shaped opinions, becoming an integral part of the cannabis subculture.

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Low Financial Times for High Times

Unfortunately, despite its iconic past, the High Times brand has encountered serious financial difficulties in recent years. After being acquired in 2017 by an investment group led by Adam Levin, High Times expanded its operations into direct ventures involving the cultivation and sale of cannabis. However, this expansion did not yield the expected results, and debts reached $28.8 million, forcing the company to put its assets up for sale.

Currently, under creditor pressure, all High Times assets will be auctioned off if no acceptable offers are received by May 17. This urgent sale highlights not only the company’s financial problems but also a change in leadership and the future of the brand, making the situation even more dramatic. This auction not only marks the end of an era but also potentially offers a new life for this iconic title in the cannabis industry.

History and Transformation of High Times

Founded in 1974 by Thomas Forcade, High Times quickly became not just a popular magazine about cannabis but a symbol of the counterculture movement that was emerging against the backdrop of social and political changes in the United States. Initially, as a voice of subculture and personal freedom, High Times drew attention from both activists and ordinary cannabis enthusiasts. Over the next decades, the magazine evolved, documenting and influencing changing social attitudes towards cannabis and its legalization.

A significant change occurred in 2017 when an investor group led by Adam Levin took control of the brand. Levin, seeing potential in the burgeoning cannabis industry, transformed High Times from a magazine focusing mainly on culture and politics related to cannabis into a multifaceted enterprise engaging directly in the cannabis market. Under his leadership, High Times began expanding, acquiring licenses to operate dispensaries and investing in cultivation.

Levin focused on diversifying the brand’s revenue sources through acquisitions and expanding its offerings. As part of its growth strategy, High Times acquired several well-known event organizing companies, including the Cannabis Cup, further cementing the magazine’s position as a key player in the cannabis industry. However, despite ambitious plans and an aggressive expansion strategy, the company’s finances began to falter. Long-term financial obligations to ExWorks, which helped finance acquisitions, became a burden that the company could not manage, ultimately leading to the decision to sell assets and auction them off as a way to settle debts.

Path to Receivership

High Times’ financial situation began to deteriorate rapidly when the company was unable to meet its obligations to ExWorks, the financial company that supported the takeover of the brand by Adam Levin and his team of investors. ExWorks provided significant funding that was supposed to enable High Times to transform from a magazine into a full-fledged cannabis enterprise. Unfortunately, unrealized plans and a lack of expected revenue led to mounting debts, eventually exceeding the company’s payment capabilities and totaling $28.8 million. As a result, ExWorks initiated legal proceedings aimed at recovering the invested funds, leading to High Times being put into bankruptcy.

In response to this situation, the court appointed Stephen Kunkle as the receiver to manage High Times’ assets and conduct the asset sale process to pay creditors. Kunkle, with experience in crisis management and restructuring, was tasked with securing the best possible terms for the asset sale. To achieve this, he hired Kevin Singer and the Greenlife Business Group, specializing in the sale of assets related to the cannabis industry, to expedite the process and increase the efficiency of the auction.

Receivership and related actions had a profound impact on High Times’ operations and reputation. For a company whose name had been synonymous with success and influence in the cannabis culture for decades, this process meant publicly admitting financial failures. Moreover, uncertainty about the brand’s future could deter potential investors and clients, affecting High Times’ further market value. Although receivership is a legal step aimed at protecting creditor interests, it undoubtedly introduced new challenges for the company, struggling to maintain its position in an increasingly competitive cannabis market.

Overview of the High Times Assets for Sale

As part of the upcoming auction, High Times is putting up for sale a wide range of assets, which include licenses to operate dispensaries, cultivation facilities, and valuable intellectual property rights. Each of these elements has unique features and potential market value, but also its own challenges, as noted by Drew Mathews, CEO of Greenlife Business Group, who is handling the sale of these assets.

One of the key assets is the operational High Times Cannabis distribution, type 7 production, and delivery business in Lynwood, California. This 9,000 square foot facility generated significant revenue in 2023, reaching as much as $399,946.20 in May. The licenses include a year-long commercial distributor and a year-long producer, giving this location significant growth potential.

Another asset is the High Times cultivation facility in Sacramento, equipped with 300 lights, capable of producing 200 pounds of dry product per cycle. This 10,000 square foot facility, in addition to an advanced LED lighting system, also has an advanced dosing and environmental monitoring system. Revenue in 2023 showed steady income, with July reaching $147,594.92.

The High Times portfolio also includes seven fully licensed cannabis dispensaries in California, each with unique features and licenses. Despite being fully equipped and operational, these locations are struggling with financial issues such as unpaid rents, which may affect their market value.

In addition to physical properties, intellectual property for sale also includes internet domains such as and rights to the Cannabis Cup brand. Although these digital and brand assets are potentially very valuable, the lack of comparable transactions in the market makes it difficult to precisely estimate their value.

These diverse assets, despite their potential value, pose a challenge for Drew Mathews and his team to sell in a short time, with the need to attract investors despite financial difficulties and a complicated legal situation at High Times.

Auction Process and Market Reaction

The auction process, overseen by Greenlife Business Group, is proceeding according to a strict schedule, culminating in the final deadline for accepting offers on May 17. Given the complicated financial situation of High Times, the pace of the process is crucial. Drew Mathews from Greenlife reported that for some assets, such as the domain, he has already received two offers, suggesting a value of around $100,000. However, other properties, especially those generating losses, have not yet attracted concrete offers, reflecting potential buyers’ concerns about investing in facilities with financial problems. The shortened sales time and ongoing losses can significantly impact the final sale prices, potentially forcing acceptance of lower offers in order to quickly resolve financial obligations.

Future Prospects and Strategic Considerations

Despite current challenges, the High Times brand still holds significant market potential, especially in the entertainment and educational sectors related to cannabis. Potential buyers could leverage the established brand position to rebuild its prestige by focusing on cultural and educational aspects of cannabis, while also expanding operations to new markets and digital platforms. It is also worth noting rumors about the possible indirect involvement of Adam Levin in reacquiring the brand, which could introduce additional dynamics into future development strategies.


The sale of High Times’ assets is a significant event for the cannabis industry, highlighting both market volatility and the effects of financial management in rapidly developing sectors. This case sheds light on broader implications for the legacy of the brand and for the cannabis market, which continues to face regulatory and operational challenges. In summary, strategic management and transparency are fundamental to achieving success and stability in developing markets. Cases like High Times show how important it is to adapt to changing conditions and the necessity of consciously taking business risks.

(Featured image courtesy of High Times via Wikimedia Commons)

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First published in Fakty Konopne, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.

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