High Times first started publication in 1974, making it the most venerable of all cannabis magazines, but it originally began as a one-off spoof on Playboy, with marijuana substituted for sex. Richard Nixon was president, and he was waging war on weed.
Yes, its initial funding came from the proceeds of selling illegal pot, but it didn’t take long for the magazine to find a place within the counterculture and eventually the mainstream. Today, it calls itself “the Amazon of cannabis.”
Fast forward 45 years, and High Times’ parent company, Hightimes Holding Corp. (“HHC”), buys Feria Del Cáñamo S.L – which does business as Spannabis, a trade and consumer conference – for $7 million. Terms of the deal include $3 million in cash due at closing, $4 million in HHC common stock, and two major payments for the conference in 2020 and 2021.
Best-Known Cannabis Festival in the European Union
High Times CEO Adam Levin says that the magazine is the most recognizable cannabis brand in the world, and Spannabis is one of the best-known festivals in the E.U., making the two a natural fit. Spannabis is scheduling its 16th annual celebration this year in Barcelona from March 15 to 17, in conjunction with the seventh annual World Cannabis Conferences.
This year features a “super-conference” with representatives from more than 50 countries. Tens of thousands of industry professionals and cannabis aficionados are expected to attend. There is an awards ceremony naming the best cannabis and related products in the region. Spannabis CEO Carlos Palomino calls the deal with High Times a “game-changer.” The deal is expected to close by the end of the quarter.
High Times on a Roll
In December, HHC conducted another large acquisition, that of Buyer’s Industry Guide and its bi-annual BIG show. High Times also owns the entertainment festivals the Cannabis Cup and Reggae on the River, along with its High Times Business Expo, an industry event.
Such ventures account for 75 percent of the company’s revenue. Its stable includes social networks and digital TV, international licensing deals, and merchandise distributed worldwide. The Spannabis deal came about as part of Hightimes Regulation A+ crowdfunding campaign, with more than 17,000 global investors participating.
In January 2018, HHC filed for an initial NASDAQ public offering at a price of $11 per share, with the intention of raising $50 million. However, the public offering is currently on hold.
In June 2017, High Times was acquired for $70 million by Oreva Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment firm founded by Levin. The firm, comprising approximately 20 investors, is focused on developing new revenue streams and expanding the magazine’s reach as cannabis legalization continues.
At the time, Levin stated that he was inundated with licensing and partnership opportunity requests. In the year and a half since the acquisition, Levin is going full speed ahead with his plans to expand collaborations globally – as with the Spannabis purchase – more event creation and a new scale for sponsorship opportunities. He noted he was especially interested in business summits.