HIGH TIMES turned 30 last year, a marijuana milestone that we assumed made us the oldest drug magazine in the world—at least the oldest one dedicated to illegal drugs. It’s not true, however—seems all this time we’ve had competition we didn’t even know existed. To be fair, only about 9,000 people read our venerable rival, and for reasons that will soon become crystal clear, it’s highly doubtful that any one of us knows any one of them—at least outside of a courtroom setting.
Since 1967, our good friends (and now colleagues) at the Justice Department have been publishing Microgram, the government’s official source for the inside dope on dope, for insiders only, the information within being so sensitive as to be designated “law enforcement restricted,” meaning nothing your red eyes were ever meant to see or even know about—until now. Responding to the sheer impossibility of containing information in the Information Age, the DEA has quietly begun to make Micrograms available to the public on the Web, including back issues, starting with January 2003.
More a bulletin than a glossy magazine, Microgram nonetheless reads like an issue of HIGH TIMES published in Bizarro World, including reports on mushroom chocolates, heroin lollipops, liquid cocaine, exploding meth labs and contraband postage stamps—all in the straitlaced style you’d expect from the DEA. No centerfolds, no catchy headlines, but plenty of interesting stories, albeit most with unhappy endings (at least for the outlaws involved).
Originally the restriction on Microgram was put in place to keep it out of the hands of underground chemists, dealers, smugglers, cartels and others interested in some counter intelligence information in the War on Drugs. Along with job listings, lab equipment reviews, and stories from the front lines, the monthly also published such valuable nuggets as synthetic drug recipes, current investigation techniques, and detailed descriptions of failed schemes (for those seeking a quick primer on how not to succeed in selling drugs).
Nowadays the content is scrubbed for public consumption, but some interesting details still find their way into print—info that might make the difference between a successful smuggle and making your own inauspicious appearance in the pages of Microgram. For instance, check out this item from the September 2003 issue before packing your magic carpet for another trip across the border:
“The Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory recently received an unusual submission consisting of a black blanket/sheet suspected to be opium laced. This was the Crime Laboratory’s first encounter with an opium-laced blanket.”
Best of all, Microgram is free! Now, before you go and start demanding that HIGH TIMES be free too, just consider this: Microgram is actually paid for by your tax dollars, as part of the DEA’s nearly $2 billion annual budget. So until somebody gives us a couple billion dollars (we’re waiting), it’s not going to happen. Instead, here’s the deal: We figure that some of you loyal readers might be interested in checking out our competition, but you’re not too keen on the idea of visiting the DEA Web site to do it. We don’t blame you. That’s why HIGH TIMES has created a free library of Microgram issues on our website, updated monthly and ready for download: hightimes.com/microgram/.
Now, about that $2 billion….
READ THIS ARTICLE IN THE FEBRUARY '05 ISSUE OF HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE.