By: Admin_Mike19 Mar 2012
A senior writer at High Times magazine, the long-running marijuana advocacy journal, is about to face charges related being a member of one of New York's largest marijuana rings.
High Times magazine is unique in its glorification of illegal activities including growing and using marijuana. The arrest of a High Times staffer seems to be a case of "where there's smoke, there's fire," since this is not the first time in the magazine's 40 year history that a staffer has been found to be involved in drug smuggling and distribution.
High Times was founded in 1974 by Gary Goodson (alias Tom King Forcade), a known drug smuggler. From the beginning, the magazine featured photos of budding marijuana plants, articles about using marijuana and prices for different types of black-market pot. Within two years, the magazine had garnered more than 4 million readers per month. Forcade committed suicide in 1978. His successor, publisher and editor Richard Stratton, served an eight year prison sentence in the 1980s for smuggling marijuana and hashish.
In the latest incident, editor Matthew Woodstock Stang faces charges of smuggling multiple truckloads of pot from Miami to New York. Most of the marijuana was grown indoors in Florida. If convicted, he faces 10 years to life in prison. Stang, who's known in drug circles as "Magazine Guy," is alleged to have partnered with Kareem (Biggs) Burke, a hip-hop mogul and former business partner of Jay-Z.
This week, Burke accepted a plea bargain and pled guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana. He could be sent prison for six years when sentenced in May.
Stang and Burke were part of a group of 50 people who were apprehended as part of "Operation Green Venom," a federal sting that targeted a large drug trafficking ring that is said to have controlled the wholesale illicit marijuana market in New York City. In addition to the arrests, the sting netted more than $2 million in cash. The drug ring is reported to have operated for more than 20 years and is suspected of perpetrating several acts of drug violence. The sting operation was the culmination of an 18-month investigation.
The DEA has investigated High Times several times in the decades since its founding, referring to it as "the middle man in a drug deal." It's not surprising that the magazine attracts law enforcement attention since its advertisements and editorial content encourage readers to break the law. Jim Hayes, a Homeland Security special agent, referred to the arrest of Matthew Woodstock Stang as "a case of art imitating real life."
Marijuana is commonly considered to be less dangerous than other drugs but it is still a Schecule 1 drug in the United States (the highest ranking or most "dangerous" level). High Times promotes and condones the use of many other street drugs that are considered more threatening to public health and well being (ie ecstasy, cocaine). Marijuana has been known to be addictive and require drug rehab for marijuana addiction.