I’ve been a part of the marijuana movement since I started working for High Times in 1989. Though High Times is predominately run by a number of women at the top, the magazine is a boy’s club, edited primarily by men. High Times caters to a predominately male readership. That’s why the magazine has featured photo spreads of Playmates, Penthouse Pets and porn stars. It’s a men’s magazine first, and the editors and bosses know how to play to their crowd.
While I worked at High Times (I left in 2007), several editors pursued these photo shoots, steering the magazine perilously in the porn direction. It all started with Jenna Jameson in 2001 for a “Pot & Sex” issue. The porn star was on top of her world at the time and the issue flew off newsstands.
High Times is not different than most publishing companies. When something works, the bosses say, “Do that again.” So the chase was on to find more Jennas. From that point, there was run of cheesecake covers — from Stoner Girls Next Door to Jenna (again) to more recent Miss High Times winners to yet another porn star, Tera Patrick. Do stoners really want porn with their pot?
I fought the good battle there and lost. When I was co-editor from 2004-2006, the dreaded sex issue came up. On one side of the editorial board, it was decided to pursue Jenna. On the other side, a few staffers contacted Penthouse. I stood in the middle. When push came to shove, I chose the Jenna cover.
I’m not a prude, I just don’t think it’s appropriate to fill up a pot magazine with images strictly for male readers, essentially turning off the female base. The few women on the staff would occasionally suggest that a sexy guy should be on the cover. Never happened. I’d regularly hear from women in the movement who’d distanced themselves from the magazine because of the racy content.
Another issue has long been the use of scantily-clad women in advertisements. That certainly has not changed.
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