Counterculture Hall of Fame: Steve Hager
Steve Hager is editor emeritas of High Times magazine and founder of the High Times Cannabis Cup. After graduation from the University of Illinois, Hager moved to New York City, working for a number of magazines before becoming a reporter for the New York Daily News. During this time, he researched the hip-hop movement of the South Bronx and sold his original story “Beat Street” to Harry Belafonte; the film was distributed by Orion Pictures. St. Martins’ Press released his book, Hip Hop, the first history of rap music, break dancing and graffiti art. He followed that book with Art After Midnight, an examination of the New York club scene and its influence on artists. In 1988, he was hired as editor of High Times. He concentrated on advocating personal cultivation of cannabis. He created the Freedom Fighters, the first hemp legalization group. Hager also created The World Hemp Expo Extravaganja, or Whee! Festivals, which were held in Oregon, Washington, Michigan, New York and Ohio. He played a pivotal role in spreading the “420″ phenomenon around the globe. Hager appears regularly at college campuses, sometimes solo, but usually as part of a debate on the legalization of cannabis, alongside former New York City D.E.A. chief Robert Stutman. The event, known as “Heads vs. Feds,” began in 2001 and has visited more than 200 colleges in nine years, regularly drawing standing-room crowds.