Just as industry webinars and sesh hangouts on Zoom are starting to lose their appeal as sources of quarantine cannabis content, High Times has come to the rescue by opening the magazine’s archives online for all the world to view for free. From interviews with cultural icons such as Andy Warhol and Hunter S. Thompson to work contributed by the likes of Charles Bukowski and William S. Burroughs, High Times has featured stories that are nearly nonexistent in today’s fast cut, clickbait society. By simply registering online with an email address, every issue of High Times ever published can be viewed online through May 20, with no credit card required.

Debuting in the early days of the War on Drugs declared by President Richard Nixon, the first issue of High Times was published in the summer of 1974. The nitrous oxide-induced brainchild of founding publisher and editor Thomas King Forҫade, a political activist and marijuana smuggler, the premier issue was “intended as a one-off spoof of Playboy, with cannabis standing in for scantily clad women,” according to former editor-in-chief Mike Gianakos in “A Brief History of High Times” from December 2019.

The cover of the first issue, which featured a young woman with her head tipped back as she was about to bite into a mushroom, was designed to evoke a feeling of “Going on a safari, a trip, escape from reality. It was about a journey,” cover-shoot photographer Robyn Scott explained. It was a trip readers were eager to take. After the inaugural issue quickly sold through its initial run of 10,000 copies as well as two reprintings, the success led to the second issue, which also sold out its run of 50,000 copies. With covers featuring celebrities including Bob Marley and Debbie Harry, circulation increased steadily through the 1970s, peaking at 4 million readers a month in 1978.

But the High Times voyage into cannabis culture hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Like much of America, the magazine dabbled in cocaine in the ‘80s, and prices for the drug as well as meth, LSD, and others were included in the infamous Trans High Market Quotations published each month. Twenty years later, the magazine pivoted 180 degrees when new management decided the magazine would abandon cannabis completely and instead transform into a counterculture and political publication. The decision confused the magazine’s readers and was promptly (and thankfully) reversed the following year.

Since then, High Times has been the preeminent publication for all things cannabis, including increasingly impressive marijuana photography, info on the best cannabis strains, and expert grow advice for marijuana gardeners of all skill levels. And for the next three weeks, its 45-plus years of cannabis history can all be just a click away at the High Times online archive.The High Times digital archive is available free to all registered users through May 20.

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