NORML responds to High Times story

In response to our recent story High Times Shake Up (CC Hotpot, Dec 17) and other similar stories that have appeared on the internet, the NORML Board of Directors has issued a statement denying that they intend on suing High Times for not paying NORML a half-share of High Times’ profits, as dictated by the terms of the trust established by HT founder Thomas For?ade.


Statement issued by the NORML Board of Directors

December, 22, 1999

In response to erroneous reports recently posted on the internet, the NORML board of directors wishes to clarify its relationship with High Times Magazine.

High Times Magazine has been a strong supporter of NORML and its efforts to legalize marijuana since the magazine was founded and it remains so today. The two organizations have worked cooperatively over many years to oppose marijuana prohibition and to end the destructive policy of arresting responsible marijuana smokers.

Unsubstantiated allegations have recently been made alleging that the legal trust which manages High Times Magazine has misappropriated millions of dollars which should have been awarded to NORML as a named beneficiary under the trust, and that NORML is preparing to sue High Times to recover these funds. While we will continue to exercise due diligence, the NORML board has reviewed this matter and is aware of no factual evidence to support these allegations and we have no plans to litigate this matter.

We look forward to continuing our close relationship with High Times and to the day when our mutual efforts will end marijuana prohibition in America and throughout the world.


On his website, former NORML director Dick Cowan made the following comments about the situation:


I am in a somewhat “delicate” position in commenting on this. I am on the Board of the NORML Foundation, not the legal entity involved in this. However, I am also the former National Director of NORML, and am a “Senior Policy Advisor” ? a purely honorific position, although I do give them advice, but not on this.

1. When the founder of High Times died in the 1970s his will created a trust, and NORML was one of two beneficiaries of this trust. NORML has received nothing from the trust. Copies of the trust agreement have suddenly been more widely distributed than the magazine, and there have been reports and rumors that NORML was about to sue High Times.

2. NORML is just now recovering from a prolonged an utterly senseless legal battle with a group of former directors that was as expensive as it was absurd. Consequently, the Board is naturally very reluctant to become involved in more litigation that would be very expensive, pit NORML against the largest publication in the movement, and which would probably yield nothing for many years, if ever.

3. This matter has been widely promoted by Ed Rosenthal, who has written on marijuana growing for High Times for years. He has a legal dispute of his own with HT, and has never been a friend of NORML. On the contrary, he has attacked NORML in High Times, but now he is trying to get NORML to fight the magazine.

4. High Times has given NORML a free ad as well as space for a column in the magazine for many years and has helped with the two Hempilation albums. Revenues from these were crucial to NORML?s survival in the past. There are certainly other marijuana reform organizations that would welcome having HT?s support. This would not only hurt NORML, but in some cases it would be very bad for the reform movement, if a less effective organization were promoted by HT. Also there is an old saying that it is foolish to get into fights with people who buy ink by the barrel.

5. The definition of profits and the proper use of revenues are not subjects on which everyone agrees. Consequently, even if one knew all the numbers, it might not be clear whether things were handled properly.

6. It is nonetheless disturbing to me that during the 3 years that I was National Director of NORML and working regularly with HT that we were never even told of the existence of the trust, and HT has not been forthcoming in providing the information that could lay to rest any doubts about the matter.

7. I have been surprised to find that so many people have an animosity toward HT. HT would do well to consider why this is so and be open with its readers and the movement about the facts in this case.

8. Under the circumstances, I think that the NORML Board made the right decision in this matter. The movement has enough enemies without fighting with strategic allies.)


So there you have it. The trust exists, Cannabis Culture has got a copy of the trust documents, as do many others. NORML has decided not to pursue a lawsuit, apparently because they feel it would be divisive and they couldn’t win fast enough for them to make it worthwhile.

It’s a weird situation and I know we at Cannabis Culture have ruffled some feathers at High Times by deciding to run the piece we did. It’s unfortunate that HT attorney Michael Kennedy and others we tried to talk have refused to return our calls or go on the record about this matter.