Santa Monica’s Oreva Capital announced last week that it paid $70 million to acquire marijuana lifestyle magazine High Times.
Oreva founder and Managing Partner Adam Levin said the firm plans to increase High Times’ revenue by investing in a more robust web presence and expanding event programs such as the Cannabis Cup series and High Times Business Summit.
“We saw a company that needed a capital infusion and structured a deal (to do that),” Levin said. “It’s a great opportunity any time you can buy a market leader like High Times.”
Levin, who is acting as interim chief executive for the newly formed Hightimes Holding Corp., said the company will also look to leverage the publisher’s intellectual property in a variety of ways. As medical and recreational marijuana legalization spreads across the United States, branding partnerships with hotels, smoking lounges, and other ventures could take off.
“Buying High Times at $70 million is a bargain when you look at what can be done with its IP,” he said. “We plan on having a multipronged approach.”
Oreva has been joined by a group of minority investors including industry players Kush Bottles Inc., Massroots Inc., and Bob Marley’s son Damian Marley, Levin said. The offer was first made in December and the deal officially closed in March. The sellers were 10 stakeholders from two families that had owned the magazine since it was formed 43 years ago.
High Times’ vice president of events, Sameen Ahmad, said Oreva’s backing gives the company an edge it didn’t have before. Access to upfront capital has already been a big help, allowing High Times to book rappers Nas (Nasir Jones) and 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) to play its Cannabis Cup events, which are regional marijuana trade shows featuring competitions, instructional seminars, expositions, celebrity appearances, concerts, and product showcases.
“The new ownership group allows us to compete with other festivals out there,” Ahmad said. “We’re able to add things like food and cooking competitions, and more prominent performers.”
The company is scheduled to host 12 events this year – up from seven in 2016 – and plans on doing 18 to 20 next year.
While the cannabis industry is expanding, the election of President Donald Trump and his appointment of strident marijuana opponent Jeff Sessions as attorney general has given some in the industry pause. Levin said High Times would work to be as compliant with the law as possible.
“High Times has been an advocate for the industry for the last 40 years, but we also want to respect the mantra of the current government,” he said.
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