Today we celebrate our 30th anniversary as hard-working pioneers in the Cannabis industry. Our lives have been dedicated to educating the masses about our beloved plant, by exposing government lies, cover-ups and disinformation from all over the world. “Reefer Madness” is unfortunately still spreading and the fight is not over yet.
There are a whole slew of paid staff and volunteers we’d like to thank for helping keep our ship afloat over the years. Some came and went, some passed away and some are still here with us today. Without their help “weed” be nothing, so thank you for helping us execute my life’s work and visions of changing international cannabis laws via awareness and education through entertainment.
To fully understand our journey, I’ll take you on a little trip down memory lane.
It all started back in 1993 when I asked my best friend to bring me a quarter pound of Mexican “schwag” we called it, which was pressed “middies” with seeds. Instead of him showing up with the herb, the SWAT team busted down my door and threw me, my wife and 12-year-old daughter on the floor with machine guns to our heads, yelling and screaming for us to get on the ground. My friend Steve Smith from Germantown, Maryland had apparently sold some herb to a cop, got busted and was working off his charges by doing controlled buys. That event gave us all PTSD and was the launching pad for my life as a Cannabis activist, which ended up becoming my official “life’s work”.
In retaliation, to spread the word of this injustice on people possessing plants and losing their freedom, I started a line of clothing called 420 Gear with activist-based messages like “Legalize” & “It’s Always 4:20 Somewhere” on hats, t-shirts and shorts. I started taking pictures of local models in 420 Gear for our catalog and website, which was going over really well. It went so well that Rolling Stone Magazine dubbed my “420 Girls” project as, “The Best Website EVER. EVER.” on the cover of their magazine.
I was also taking pictures of my famous rock star friends smoking weed and doing interviews for my 420 Bands project. We did interviews with 420 Girls & 420 Bands on why they think cannabis should be legal. I was the only one in the world doing this, and my idea was to feature these interviews with photos of them smoking weed, to show the world that you don’t have to be a loser to smoke weed, everyone does it and you’d be surprised who. It blossomed into so much content and work on three different websites that I decided to put it all together as 420 Times Magazine at 420Times.com. We had just become the first Cannabis forums online, at the birth of the internet. The only cannabis website online at the time was High Times, but they didn’t have forums or a way to interact with each other like we did.
We put together a small print magazine that I circulated at music shows and grass root type events, but it ended up being too expensive to produce and we couldn’t reach as many people as we could online. Plus there were no 420 type vendors that were brave enough to advertise their products in a print magazine, as they were all underground and black market enterprises. So after a short run, we decided it was best to focus all of our time, energy and money on perfecting and evolving our digital presence.
I joined countless music tours to promote our message with national acts who were supporting our mission like Clutch, Slayer, Pantera, Down, System of a Down, Korn, Limp Biscuit, Disturbed, Incubus, Sevendust, Nothingface, Soulfly, Kittie, White Zombie, Metallica, Ozomatli, Cypress Hill, Ozzy, Meshuggah, Rob Zombie, Creed, Orgy, Rammstein, Black Label Society, Kottonmouth Kings and the list goes on. The bands would wear our shirts on stage and promote our mission to their audiences not only in live performances, but also on their websites. They also plastered our stickers at every venue they played, as well as on their instruments being played live onstage. We had the support of hundreds of radio stations across the country as well as half a dozen DJs from XM Satellite radio who mentioned and supported us on the air frequently.
High Times offered to hire me and my webmaster to expand their website and mission like I had done for my own. However, after being advised that running my own website would then be a conflict of interest, I told them thanks, but no thanks. So, instead they began copying my 420 Girls and 420 Bands content by contacting all of the girls and bands I had been working with and promoting. I was flattered, and annoyed just the same.
Operation Pipe Dreams was a complete nightmare. Sixty of the largest glass pipe and bong manufacturers were shut down by the DEA & DOJ. Most of their inventory was smashed to pieces, their homes, vehicles and bank accounts seized and several of them thrown in jail. Tommy Chong was the only one who spoke out about it, and for that he spent 9 months in federal prison. High Times removed all Cannabis content from their magazine and actually moved forward as a non-cannabis magazine for six months to follow.
Since there was nobody in Maryland who wanted to help, everyone just wanted to smoke my weed and hang out with the girls and bands. So, I moved to Florida in search of some grass roots minded activists to join my mission.
High Times confronted me on ripping their name, claiming that “420 Times” was a copy of High Times. I explained to them repeatedly that Times was a term used for newspapers around the world and that they had no special claim over it. But after continued bullying, I decided to remove the word “Times” from the mix and we became simply 420 Magazine.
Moved to California after being raided for weed again, seeking asylum in a legal cannabis environment, I moved to Cali and published my Book “Naked Girls Smoking Weed – Best of 420 Girls” . Fortunately, many people from all over the world embraced my activist idea to feature girls smoking weed to get attention to our mission, then slip in the awareness. Unfortunately, many other pioneers I was seeking approval and connection with, dismissed me and kicked me to the curb, calling me a cheap pornographer. I was literally devastated. It upset me so bad, that I shut down 420Girls.com and told my publisher to stop making my books. Since then, I’ve focused 420% of my time and energy on 420 Magazine, without featuring our 420 Girls, to earn the credibility we deserve.
After becoming friends with the real-life Nancy Botwin, Dr. Dina Browner, I was hired to do Product Placement & Cannabis Consulting for Showtime’s “Weeds”. We built the most realistic dispensary that had ever been filmed, called Happy Lucky Cannabis, which had 420 Magazine branded posters, stickers and magazines all over the set. This sparked a six-year adventure working and socializing with the cast and crew of the show, while branding 420 Magazine in television. At one of the wrap parties, Alanis Morrisette gave us a joint of weed she grew with Woody Harrelson’s father’s ashes in the soil. A funny and foggy star-studded evening pursued, creating memories for a lifetime.
I was headhunted by Bruce Perlowin & Don Steinberg, who hired me to help them bring the first public company on the stock market, the Cannabis industry had ever seen. I was the Founding Chief Operating Officer of Medical Marijuana, Inc. who vouched for this brand-new company and its executives to our industry. We believed this was the vehicle that was going to help 420 Magazine get to the next level, as my colleagues in the company wanted to take us public on the stock market. Unfortunately, I resigned a year later, after concluding that they might have been using the company to sell stock and they apparently had no intentions of doing all of the wonderful things we had agreed on doing.
Later that year, I was the Co-Producer of, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” documentary. It was an honor to work side by side with my brother in arms and mentor, Jack Herer and many of his lifelong friends and family.
The end of the world was supposedly near, but I was too busy doing Product Placement & Cannabis Consulting for Universal Pictures & Oliver Stone’s “Savages”. We built the most realistic grow house ever portrayed in a major motion film, again plastered with 420 Magazine posters, stickers and magazines all over the set. If you look for us in the film, you’ll see us about a dozen times, successfully branding 420 Magazine in major motion film. We cleared out an indoor pool in a Malibu mansion, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We hung a hundred lights and made 500 fake cannabis plants. Being on set and chilling with Salma Hayek, Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch and John Travolta was pretty awesome. Living in Hollywood definitely had its ups and downs, like smoking out with hundreds of people we see on TV and hear on the radio every day, those were some of my best days.
Things in Hollywood were getting crazy, so I moved up to Northern California to focus on taking 420 Magazine to the next level. We’ve been beyond busy maintaining the website with 60-80,000 unique visitors daily. It takes a team of 25 paid staff and volunteers from all over the world to keep our ship afloat. Between the wildfires, the riots, Covid and businesses coming and going like the wind, it’s taken everything we have to stay afloat.
I’ve been running this mission from my home offices all over the country, to change the international cannabis laws through creating cannabis awareness. With so much work, it has been difficult to go to events and schmooze with the industry folks. A majority of my time is now spent on programming, SEO, accounting, ad sales, moderating, administration and managing our staff of 25 volunteers and paid staff.
I started this as an activist-based mission, thinking I’d be gathering Activists from around the world to work together and free the herb, however after all these years it’s clear to see that most activists want their own soapbox and were not interested in my platform. Instead, it became an international hot bed for growers all over the planet connecting, sharing and helping each other learn how to grow our beloved plant. Unfortunately, none of them wanted to leave their hidden identities, so they all congregated under our safe umbrella. I’ve been hosting our servers in Canada this entire time, to protect us and our mission from the pesky feds in the US so the growers can feel safe sharing their content and helping others. I am beyond grateful they never crossed the line of going into Canada to get our data to prosecute me, like they did Marc Emery from Cannabis Culture Magazine.
Many of the founding pioneers are now deceased, and many of the living ones have been cast aside, however some of us are still alive and doing what we can to stay afloat in this new, crazy and oversaturated industry. It hasn’t been easy keeping this operation together with no PayPal for donations or product sales because they keep closing our account for being “drug related” and no merchant accounts will accept us because of the grow forums on our website. Things have gotten so challenging at times with the constant obstacles, that I’ve considered shutting down the mission and moving onto something else. It really is a thankless and self-motivating job however, when I think of all the lives we’ve saved and the quality of lives we’ve drastically improved, it gives me the fuel to get through yet another day of paying it forward.
It’s never been about money for me, it’s always been about changing these laws and getting our brothers and sisters out of jail. This is why we continue struggling to pay the bills today, because our hearts are in the movement, not the money.
When I think of how many people we’ve taught how to grow Cannabis over the last 30 years, gardens we’ve helped save from catastrophe and financial ruin or loss of medicine, this is the kind of thing that keeps me going. Being on the front lines of Cannabis grow support for the last thirty years, I’ve been blessed with knowing some of the greatest Cannabis farmers the planet has to offer.
It’s been a long road from hiding in basements and alleyways, to buying from dispensaries, smoking in public lounges and eating at Cannabis cafes. Here’s to hoping for a better and brighter future for our industry moving forward.
I’d like to give some shoutouts to some of our Fallen Cannabis Warriors, the true pioneers who blazed the trail and helped create the road to the Green Rush that many are unaware of. Activists like Jack Herer, Franco Loja, Peter McWilliams, Michelle Rainy, Dennis Peron, Nevil Martin Schoenmakers, Howard Marks, Sister Somayah Kambui, Eagle Bill Amato & Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya for leading the way and showing us the light. Jim Finnel, Mark Heinrich, Tim O’Donnell, Jim Lacquement & Dustin Marson who worked tirelessly day after day helping us create awareness and maintaining our digital revolution.
One of my mentors Jack Herer once told me, “I’m going to keep fighting for Cannabis Hemp until I turn 80, it’s legal or I die.” When he passed away, I picked up his torch and vowed to continue our mission in the same way, until I am 80, Cannabis is legal worldwide or I die. We still have much work to do and you can rest assured that we will continue our mission to create Cannabis awareness until our people are free and it is no longer illegal to possess a plant anywhere on this planet.
I leave you with some links to some historical articles and threads about us and our mission, to get you caught up on what we’ve been up to and what we believe in.
Thank you for your continued support of us and our mission, we are truly grateful for you.
Happy 4/20 to you and Happy Anniversary to us!
Founder/CEO 420 Magazine