Both were high flying symbols of the promise of the legal cannabis industry.  Both, at one point, led by an Adam and both made mainstream headlines.  Now, as the cannabis world take another key step toward mainstreaming, these two iconic cannabis companies could disappear. Both High Times and Medmen went into receivership in the month of April.

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As the cannabis industry enters a new era, both companies straddled the gulf between the weed wild wild west and today’s market-price/share-price focus.  Early on, each became the darling of media attention and part of the general population’s conversation. Medmen’s antics saw them skewered on the hit show South Park.  Both became regulars on Cheddar as industry thought leaders. High Times, the founder of the original cannabis cup, made high flying deals, did a controversial “non” public offering, and, in looks, expanded into dispensaries.  Both are now in court waiting to see what happens to the companies and assets.

Photo courtesy of Medmen

Medmen hit the market in 2010 with co-founder in Adam Bierman and Andrew Modlin. In 2018 MedMen West Hollywood was one of the first legal cannabis dispensaries to open in California. Hailed as the Apple Store of weed, their slick design captured the feel of the new wider market and set the pace for of retails wishing to attract an expanding mainstream consumer. From there came an expansion including an expensive sort of store on 5th Ave in New York City, greenhouse grows, a REIT, and lots of press.  Things began changing when they went public with a reverse merger.  Things took an ugly turn with a messy lawsuit with the outgoing CFO, the the Journal of the American Medical Association called them out for their marketing, and things went down hill quickly. On March 11, 2024, it was reported by several sources that Medmen had closed operations everywhere except for in San Diego and near LA International Airport. It was announced the company is $411 million in debt while awaiting the court’s decision about their future.

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High Times was the leader of the marijuana movement, helping people learn, engage and get stoned. They taught people the value of medical marijuana and brought celebrities to the forefront of the movement. Then the 44-year-old magazine was sold to a group of investors led by Adam Levin and the Los Angeles-based Oreva Capital for $42 million. Rumor has it, the founder’s widow is still owed money from this deal. Levin claimed he could raise the value of the company to $100s of million of dollars, but followed was a messy, tangled trip leaving heartbroken investors behind. Multi rounds of funding with a variety of valuations, a semi-offering to the general public at $11 a share, cancelled cannabis cups, and a web of activities raised eyebrows. From a practical point of you, the site never really looked at the new legal market, they figured the newbies would immediately embrace the legacy culture. Instead, companies like Wana Brands appealed to them with gummies named Calm. The movement moved on and High Times tried to enter the dispensary market. Now all the assets sit with a receiver and the fate of the legendary leader is unknown.

These are the tails of a fast rising, consumer driven, mainstreaming industry.

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