The official event poster for the upcoming High Times Cannabis Cup scheduled to take place on October 27th & 28th in Sacramento, California features a spooky Halloween-themed design with a zombie hand clutching a lit joint.
Ironic considering the fact that the company continues to come back from the dead, but it’s not brains that they’re after, it’s dollars.
Word out of the California state capital, however, is that the 2nd “legal” High Times event of the year under the state’s new public consumption laws might’ve recently had the final nail pounded into its coffin.
The news comes on the heels of a public relations blitz by High Times, which has been in a financial freefall for years, despite a change of ownership in 2016.
YouTube viewers have had their favorite videos interrupted lately by fresh, bright, and somewhat odd sponsored YouTube ads trying to recruit investors. You may have seen that they recently bought out their fastest rising competitor in Dope Magazine, and High Times also just inked a deal with iHeart Radio to trade $10 million in free ad space on the popular radio service in exchange for a 5% stake in the aging cannabis media company.
So what is a 5% stake in High Times worth these days?
Not a whole lot, apparently, according to the investment advising website SeekngAlpha.com which recently referred to High Times stocks as a “mess to be avoided” and says that the only way that the company will find success via Wall Street is by roping in “a huge volume of retail investors who lack the ability to analyze financial statements or at the very least complete due diligence beyond the heavily filtered and pre-packaged High Times crowdfunding pitch. Everything about this company from the method it is trying to go public, its financials and its competitive positioning are toxic.”
City officials in Sacramento would likely agree.
As of September 12th, High Times still had not paid the city the required taxes from their May event. The company predicted that the event would generate over $200k in revenue, but it actually clocked in at about $60k and they still couldn’t get it paid until September 20th when it became apparent that the October event was in real jeopardy.
Also at odds with High Times is a Sac-town community group named the Build Black Coalition. This is actually an umbrella group of many local social justice organizations that have rallied together to provide positive opportunities to minority youth in the area.
While begging for their permit back in May, High Times pledged to donate $100,000 to the Build Black Coalition, and an additional $40,000 to provide high tech career training to local youths.
By mid-August High Times still had not paid.
When confronted by leaders of the activist group, the company vowed to square up in 10 days.
Here we are in October and they still have not met that obligation, claiming that the money to do so is “tied up” in their IPO (Initial Public Offering…aka stocks) launch. Strange, considering they just rolled up over $11,000,000 out of thin air to squash Dope Mag.
“Let’s put it this way: If they don’t pay the $140,000, they’re not coming back a second time.”
Sacramento’s mayor, Darrell Steinberg, released this statement in late September, “This temporary event was approved in April with the understanding that it would provide substantial benefits to the City of Sacramento and local community groups. The vendors recently paid their full tax obligation but we also intend to ensure that their community commitment is fulfilled before we consider the possibility of similar events in the future.”
As it stands now, if the High Times Cannabis Cup gets approved in full by the city of Sacramento, the vote will have to happen the same week that the event is supposed to occur.
Sacramento City Council Member Jeff Harris represents the district that the event is supposed to be held in. When asked how he felt about the latest round of negotiations, he said, “They pushed us last time—well, they’ve done it again. I don’t like being pushed on policy decisions because someone wants to hold a for-profit event.”
In a show of no-confidence, High Times has not announced any official music acts even though they still have $420 VIP tickets on sale and the gates are due to open just three weeks from now.
There is a high likelihood that if the show does go on, it will be a no-sales/no-consumption event similar to the “4/20” High Times Cannabis Cup earlier this year in Southern California.
If that is how it ends up going down, it will surely have a negative impact on attendance as well as on the company’s already midgrade reputation.