Media Archives - Green Market Report

Debra BorchardtMarch 21, 2023


Typically, cartoon characters are forbidden territory for cannabis companies and branding, but the adult-oriented cult favorite Heavy Metal has managed to find a way.

Regulators fear that allowing cartoons to be used in cannabis marketing will attract children to the products. But Heavy Metal has always been clearly targeted to an adult audience, helping it pave the way to combine science fiction, entertainment, and art with cannabis through a partnership with a Massachusetts company.


The original Heavy Metal film came out in 1981 and was adapted from the Heavy Metal magazines which began publication in the 1970s. The magazine featured artwork from famous fantasy illustrators such as Frank Frazetta and H.R. Giger.

Like the magazine, the film features a great deal of graphic violence, sexuality, and nudity – and has long had to navigate content restrictions.

Tommy Corriale who owns the license for Heavy Metal, recently spoke with Green Market Report about the new venture.

“Heavy Metal is an adult-oriented brand. Across all of its verticals, it will continue to be that,” Corriale said. “The current management team that has just recently taken the reins is excited about building additional kinds of content and products in adult-oriented spaces. So cannabis was a natural fit, and Berkshire Roots actually approached us. James had the idea of heavy metal being a brand that would cut through for a number of reasons.”

Old School Appeal

Corriale is working with Massachusetts dispensary Berkshire Roots to launch Heavy Metal Cannabis on April 1. The product will be available in other stores with plans to expand into other legal states. Berkshire Roots CEO James Winokur also took time to talk with Green Market Report.

Winkour highlighted that even though the movie and the cannabis will be targeted at adults, there will still be steps taken to ensure that is the audience the content reaches.

“As a long-term licensee in Massachusetts, we know all the packaging rules or marketing rules,” Winokur said. “One of the things that we did when we were working with Heavy Metal is figure out that we can have this really great logo on the outside of the packaging, we can have very subtle imagery on the outside, and then play with what goes on on the inside of the packaging that only someone 21 plus is going to be opening.

“You know, this isn’t Snoopy or Mickey Mouse, and that’s what states are generally concerned about is having some image that looks like that,” he added.

Corriale can see opportunities for crossover between the cannabis products and storylines for the magazine, as well, with interactive experiences developing specific artwork, characters, and storylines that customers could access. For example, a QR code could be included within the packaging that could unlock special artwork.

For the Heavy Metal Cannabis brand, Berkshire Roots said it will introduce new flower strains the company hasn’t previously sold.

“I’ve seen a lot of different branding opportunities,” Winokur said. “The name can be interesting, the packaging could be interesting, but what’s inside that has to be really good.”

Welcome to the Cannaverse

Berkshire Roots created five “collections” for the initial launch, collectively called the Cannaverse. Each collection will be associated with certain product types and draw from the library of stories and characters in the “Metalverse”:

  • 1981: Drawing from the old-school movie and delivering old-school products.
  • Never Never: The Peter Pan-style fantasy stories will be the home for an elevated flower experience.
  • Taarna: Vape cart and disposable vapes that pair nicely with the sword-wielding, take no prisoners character.
  • Cold Dead War: The zombie apocalypse stories make for a great connection to face-melting concentrates.
  • Dark Wing: The sci-fi based collection will include some “out there” palate-challenging edibles.

Where the Metalverse meets the Cannaverse is definitely a different approach to cannabis marketing and could spark more 1970s and 1980s nostalgia in the industry.

Debra BorchardtFebruary 7, 2023


If High Times can’t pull together the money it owes lenders, the whole company could end up in the hands of one man – Stephen Kunkel, a partner at VentureSpring LLC in Chicago.

Green Market Report wrote in October that High Times defaulted on its $28 million debt. High Times agreed to a payment schedule with ExWorks to satisfy the issue, however, news of the payment either hasn’t happened, or if it has, it hasn’t been made public by either party.

That may be because the lender, ExWorks, is in bankruptcy court itself. That case, CIBC Bank USA v. ExWorks Capital Fund I, L.P., et al., is currently pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, as Case No. 2021 CH 06191. The court named Stephen Kunkel as the receiver of the assets – meaning he could end up being charged with divesting the assets of the company.

Despite ExWorks’ own financial troubles, High Times still owes the money and will be expected to meet its debt obligations.

Debt Timeline

High Times started borrowing money back in 2017, with a line of credit note that was converted to a senior secured convertible promissory note. The original amount of $11.5 million was later increased to $18.8 million.

High Times Chairman Adam Levin issued a  personal guarantee in 2018 to the lenders for the debt. That means he is on the hook to pay back the debt from his own personal assets if the business fails to do so.

High Times ultimately defaulted on the loan and informed ExWorks that it couldn’t pay back the debt. In November 2022, ExWorks said it would take payment from a third party to satisfy High Times’ debt., meaning High Times needed to go out and find investors to help.

That also means the clock is ticking down as to when ExWorks receiver Kunkle can actually take over the assets and potentially sell them. Kunkel was asked to comment on the case, and he hasn’t responded.

The key dates under the agreement include:

  • Oct. 26, 2022 – participation agreement due
  • Nov. 15, 2022 – a $6 million payment due
  • Sept. 30, 2023 – remaining $8 million due

High Times was also expected to pay ExWorks $60,000 at the end of each month in interest payments.

In a legal agreement that was agreed upon and drafted but not yet filed with the courts, Kunkel is expected to be appointed as receiver for the following High Times properties:

  • Hightimes Holding Corp.
  • Trans-High Corp.
  • High Times Productions Inc.
  • Cannabis Business Digital LLC
  • High Times Inc.
  • New Morning Productions Inc.
  • Hemp Times Inc.
  • Planet Hemp Inc.
  • The Hemp Company of America Inc.
  • High Times Cannex Corp.
  • High Times Press Inc.
  • Culture Pub Inc.
  • Wilshire & Veteran Media Corp.
  • Chalice Holdings Inc.
  • HT Retail Licensing LLC
  • Harvest of Merced LLC
  • Harvest of Riverside LLC
  • HT Staffing California, LLC
  • HT Retail Licensing LLC
  • Hightimes Mountain LLC
  • HHI Acquisition Corp.
  • Interurban Capital Group LLC
  • 530 Collective
  • J@G Enterprises Inc.
  • Mountain High Recreation Inc.

 Ticking Clock

The company has until Sept. 30, 2023, to come up with the money, buying it some time before it could all come crashing down.

For its part, High Times isn’t operating as if it could lose the company. It continues to do deals and publishes fresh content on the website. However, some subscribers have complained they paid for print subscriptions and have never received anything and can’t get through to customer service.

End of Offering?

High Times has also had a habit of extending its offering, even though the company is prohibited from selling any additional shares until it posts current financials. In September, the company extended the offering once again to Jan. 31, 2023, and so far there has been no word that the date was extended.

Perhaps it has but the SEC notice hasn’t been filed. Or maybe that is the end of the offering? The last financials the company publicly reported date back to 2018. The company has clearly stated in its offering, “That there is no ready public market for the Shares and that there is no guarantee that a market for their resale will ever exist. The Company has no obligation to list any of the Shares on any market or take any steps (including registration under the Securities Act or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended) with respect to facilitating trading or resale of the Shares.”

It also doesn’t seem to have had any kind of board of directors meeting in years, another requirement that the SEC imposes on companies. In December, High Times said it elected and appointed Shaun Jarvis as an independent director of the board by unanimous written consent.

However, the company didn’t state who left the board to create the vacancy filled by Jarvis. Previous board members included Colleen Manley, who was related to previous High times owner Tom Forcade, and Justin Ehrlich of Churchill Real Estate.

One party has already reached out to Kunkel with hopes of acquiring some of the assets but hasn’t gotten an answer. The attorneys for Kunkel have also not responded to questions about the timing of Kunkle taking over the HighTimes assets.

The publication has managed to stay one step ahead of those chasing it and now has eight months left to keep in the hands of Adam Levin.

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