High Times has a new home with familiar faces. The longtime torchbearer for marijuana media was sold to Oreva Capital, a Los Angeles-based investment group that includes Denver pot entrepreneur Kayvan Khalatbari and reggae musician and royalty Damien Marley.
Khalatbari confirmed the $70 million acquisition that will give Oreva Capital a majority stake in High Times media, which includes publishing rights to a monthly magazine, a popular website and books as well as its Cannabis Cups, a series of weed-friendly events and competitions responsible for the majority of High Times' revenue as more state legalize cannabis.
Oreva Capital CEO Adam Levin says the privately held magazine has roughly 236,000 monthly print subscribers. Previous High Times owners remain shareholders and management and editorial teams will largely remain the same, he says.
Levin says the purchase was finalized months ago but Oreva waited to make the announcement as corporate changes were made.
"We felt it was the strongest brand in cannabis. There's so many different connections," he says. "We're going to continue to add people and expand our offerings."
One of those offerings, the Cannabis Cup on April 20, hasn't existed in Denver for two years because of planning difficulties.
Levin's team expects to have a bigger presence in Denver going forward, though he couldn't say exactly how just yet.
"We hope to come back to Denver in some way. We're looking at a few different events," he says.
Until the purchase, High Times was a family-run operation since its inception in 1974. Khalatbari says he and his partners have no interest in diverting from the mission of the iconic brand or instituting a mass change, but there's always room for improvement.
"There's a lot of folks who have a stake in this, and there's discussions to be had," he says. "It's very likely we'll add some components to it, but I don't think you're going to see a huge shift."
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A cannabis industry veteran with hands in Denver ventures ranging from a voter-approved public-use initiative to Sexy Pizza, a local pizza chain, Khalatbari says he hopes to cover cultural and societal issues in the future, such as protecting medical marijuana patients' rights and promoting industry diversity and environmentally friendly practices.
"It's exciting to be a part of something so close and important to culture of cannabis," he says.
Khalatbari co-founded a marijuana business consulting firm, Denver Relief Consulting, in 2010 and a dispensary, Denver Relief, that was sold and changed to Terrapin Care Station in 2016; Denver Relief's cultivation and infused product licenses were sold to Willie Nelson's commercial cannabis group, Willie's Reserve. Multiple Denver Relief consulting members, including Denver Relief dispensary co-founder Ean Seeb, were partners in purchasing High Times.
Other cannabis entrepreneurs with Mile High ties in the deal include Nicholas Kovacevich, CEO of Denver-based Kush Bottles, and Isaac Dietrich, co-founder of cannabis social network MassRoots.