The Growth of Marijuana Business Media

OHIO:  The first trade magazine I launched, Paraphernalia & Accessories Digest, served the headshop industry. I had cofounded High Times four years earlier, by then a resoundingly successful consumer magazine. The market the Digest covered included record stores and boutiques which sold lifestyle items like incense, blacklight posters, and underground comix in addition to their primary lines of goods. The main focus of my magazine for those retailers, and others more exclusively positioned as headshops, were rolling papers, pipes and other accoutrements which were used by people to consume recreational drugs, primarily marijuana.

The year was 1978 — the same year towns and counties across America began writing laws with the goal of putting my readers out of business. (I launched my first paid newsletter in ’79, a biweekly breaking news of whether you were going to get arrested soon. Sold hundreds at $299 a year.) All the laws had glaring first amendment problems. You see, cigarette papers and tobacco pipes had been legal for hundreds of years. Still were. So what was being outlawed was intent, not the items per se.

Over the following two years in states across the country, advertising in my magazine became proof you were breaking the law. Buy an ad, get a subpoena! Not great for sales. As publisher of the industry trade mag, I was called to testify in front of a Congressional committee.

What a difference 37 years makes. Marijuana is now legal for medical and/or recreational use in some way or another in 24 states and the District of Columbia. In Kentucky and elsewhere they are starting to legally grow hemp. There are now at least two serious trade publications for the emerging legal cannabis industry.