Jackee Stang might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of the crusade for cannabis legalization. She’s never aspired to be a face for advocacy. She’s been quietly pushing the agenda forward by building up other people and brands. And as the only senior executive who’s a woman at High Times, she’s been happily holding court behind the scenes.
But late last year, Jackee decided to step up and breathe some life into an idea—an idea that would help the High Times brand evolve to be more inclusive and relevant to women, while normalizing cannabis for the masses, and ultimately, making change at the political level.
The project kicked off with the appointment of the High Times Women’s Council. And whether or not Jackee realized it at the time, this will make it hard to maintain her behind-the-scenes perch for much longer.
If you don’t know, High Times is the “world’s leading source for daily cannabis news, weed information, and marijuana culture.” And has been since 1974. It started as a weed catalogue filled with double page spreads of the plant, like a sexy magazine might feature women’s breasts in soft relief. But if you’ve never seen a copy of the magazine or visited High Times online, you would be like most women.
It was never built for us.
“High Times has had a very masculine skew aesthetically for the majority of its 44 years,” says Jackee. “What’s happening in the cannabis space now is so female, there are a lot of cool brands coming up, but where are the women from before—the women who have paved the way?”
Jackee says a certain respect for the wisdom of elders played a big part in how she was raised. And that was the impetus for the High times Women’s Council.
“Being the oldest cannabis brand, we should comment on the women before in addition to the younger women doing it now,” says Jackee. “And get them all in a room and see what happens. At the end of the day, we’re trying to legalize [cannabis] federally and it’s so clear that a large part of what’s actually going to make that happen is the female consumer group.”
If you’re like me, you have a picture of Jackee in your mind: a lifelong stoner who isn’t all that relatable to a new or cannacurious consumer. The truth is she never saw herself working in the industry, she’s an art history major, and she didn’t actually consume a lot of cannabis until very recently.
“It made me paranoid,” she says. “It made me overthink and just go down dark holes. But I was always around it. Everyone I’ve ever dated would be considered a stoner.”
So how did Jackee go from being employee number five at Bulletproof—the brand that invented biohacking and the butter-in-your-coffee craze—to being on the frontline for advocacy around cannabis?
Well, one fateful night in New York about four years ago, Jackee met her now husband Matt Stang, a cannabis legend in his own right and legacy High Times fixture. Matt had been acquitted that very day of allegations of trafficking cannabis.
“I think I Googled him afterwards and thought that was hot,” says Jackee with a laugh. “He was a bad boy.”
And so began their love story.
Jump to now, Jackee has thrown herself into her cannabis work where she’s not just on a crusade to evolve High Times, she’s also on a mission to build a platform for women, young and old, to work together to chart a course ahead. This industry is unruly, to put it mildly, but the upside is worth the hard work.
At this critical moment in history, Jackee is one of the inspirational women we should all be watching. She stands firmly at the threshold of a future where we celebrate the plant. And, at least for now, she quietly holds the door for the rest of us to walk through. And for that, we thank her.
Catch Jackee hosting a brand new podcast called the High Times Green Room on iTunes.