High Times magazine, the voice of America’s pot culture since 1974, has announced it will be changing its format, and not covering so much marijuana news. “We’re trying to get away from just being a pot magazine,” said new executive editor John Mailer, in a November interview with the New York Times.
The January 2004 issue was the first under Mailer’s new direction. The cover features no pot references, and there is less pot content inside the magazine than most readers will be used to. According to Mailer, the following issues are “transitional,” with the official relaunch coming in May 2004.
High Times was founded by eccentric pot smuggler and counter-culture philanthropist Tom Forcade, who killed himself in 1978. The magazine has had several different phases, including centerfolds with cocaine and diamonds, but has always retained a heavy focus on marijuana news and culture. Since 1988, the editor had been Steven Hager, who also founded the High Times Cannabis Cup.
“With the new High Times we’re using [pot]as a metaphor,” said Mailer. “So it’s not a magazine about pot, it’s a magazine about our civil liberties, and our tag line is ‘Celebrating Freedom.’ Our feeling is it’s patriotic to be in High Times.”
Mailer admitted that he didn’t even know High Times was still in business until he was offered the job. Mailer has never edited a magazine before, and has only one published article in his resume. However, he is the son of famed writer Norman Mailer, and he has written and starred in a couple of plays which have been performed off-Broadway.
The new High Times will come out only eight times a year. However, High Times is also launching a spin-off magazine called Grow America, which will come out six times a year. Grow America will be focused on pot news and cultivation, apparently containing much of the marijuana material which has been eliminated from High Times.