Saint John-based cannabis magazine lays off staff ahead of purchase by U.S. firm

The Saint John-based publishers of a cannabis lifestyle magazine have laid off all their employees ahead of being bought out by a Washington, D.C.-based analytics company.

Civilized Worldwide Inc., which included the online magazine Civilized Life, will be acquired by New Frontier Data.

A statement from New Frontier Data said all Civilized staff have been laid off "temporarily." The statement did not say how many employees were affected.

As of Dec. 3, the magazine's website is still online, featuring articles on hiding the smell of cannabis, the easiest edibles to make at home, and surviving Thanksgiving dinner with cannabis.

New Frontier Data told CBC News no one was available for an interview.

CBC also tried to Derek Riedle, founder and publisher of Civilized, but did not receive a reply.

Launched before legalization

The magazine, which was launched in 2015, was touted as a sophisticated magazine for the cannabis enthusiast. 

When the magazine launched, founder Derek Riedle described the magazine as "Cigar aficionado meets Huffington Post meets cannabis."

When Civilized started, cannabis laws were in a much different place.

It would be three years before Canada would legalize recreational use of the drug. At the time of the magazine launch, only four jurisdictions in North America had legalized recreational use of the drug; Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

At the time of its launch, it employed 14 people in Saint John. The company later opened an office in Los Angeles.

Civilized began marketing itself to the greater world, sponsoring the World Cannabis Congress, which brought in Martha Stewart as a speaker.

The magazine also hosted the now annual Moonlight Bazaar in Saint John's uptown.

Public money

Civilized was also the beneficiary of more than $200,000 from New Brunswick taxpayers over three years.

Public Accounts documents shows Civilized Worldwide Inc. received $25,385 from the provincial government in 2018, $67,787 in 2017 and $108,461 in 2016. 

The public documents don't show what the money was for or which department it was coming from. 

Opportunities New Brunswick has previously touted a partnership with Civilized but did not specify how much money went into the company.