In 1967, long before starting High Times, Forcade founded the Underground Press Syndicate (UPS), which collected the best content from the hundreds of alternative newspapers sprouting up across the country during the psychedelic '60s, and made this content available for reprint in other publications and on microfiche in university libraries. In 1970, Forcade edited Yippie cofounder Abbie Hoffman's Steal This Book, a collaboration that yielded a brilliant field guide to fomenting social revolution, but also a feud that would mark Forcade's break with the established anti-establishmentarianists. He would go on to form the Zippies, in opposition to both the Vietnam War and his one-time Yippie cohorts, claiming his former comrades had gone soft in the fight against imperialist America.

When the Zippies decided to crash the 1972 Republican National Convention, the result was an indictment for Forcade for planning to firebomb the event-trumped-up charges later dropped by the FBI for lack of evidence. Meanwhile, the UPS disintegrated after pressure from the CIA led the major record labels to stop advertising in the underground press. As a result, the number of alternative magazines dropped precipitously.

Like Robin Hood before him, Tom Forcade broke the law with honor

Always a savvy entrepreneur, Forcade understood that to truly succeed in publishing he needed an idea the corporations couldn't co-opt and a group of advertisers the straight world couldn't scare off. Still heavily involved in the lucrative marijuana trade, he dropped $20,000 of his own money into a new venture: High Times magazine. Hoping to do for drugs what Hugh Hefner's Playboy had done for sex, Forcade's timing couldn't have been better. In 1974, when the first issue premiered, countless Americans were discovering the joys of marijuana as the hippie sacrament became increasingly ingrained in mainstream culture. Meanwhile, just a year earlier, the DEA had formed in response to Richard Nixon's call for an all-out War on Drugs.