Who Is Jack 'Hemperor' Herer?

Written by Art McGinley | 18 Apr 2019
📷 Cannabis Culture Awards

On this, the 9th year of his unceremonious death it seemed right to discuss the maverick hero himself Jack Herer. The ramifications of his contribution to cannabis culture are immense. Without him amongst others we wouldn’t be where we are today. We definitely wouldn’t all have a favourite Sativa strain named after the man himself. Born on June 18th 1939 he is not from a generation you would expect to favour cannabis. For one the access to information was very limited when Jack would have being growing up and what information there was contributed to “reefer madness” period which led to members of that generation holding on to stigmatised views regarding the magical flower, cannabis.

Coming from these times he was not always a cannabis advocate and even allegedly threatened to leave his first wife over finding out she had smoked. Fortunately, for the cannabis world he moved to L.A where a girlfriend at the time convinced him to try some and boy should we thank this women. This epiphany occurred at the age of thirty and being who he was, an intelligent man, he decided to learn everything he could about cannabis.

Although he was a massive advocate for the recreational use, his biggest contribution was undoubtedly his book the ‘The emperor who wears no clothes’ which detailed the many potential uses of hemp, which is in its twelfth edition and has been in continuous print since its inception in 1985. Funnily enough he started planning this book whilst in prison for refusing to pay a fine for registering voters in a car park. Ever the maverick, in many different ways. This book brought to light a mass of information that had being so well repressed for too long. Just to lightly touch on hemp potential, hemp creams, hempcrete and hemp paper.

By 1973 he was already living his best life, inventing smoking accessories, opening up the first hemp store on Venice beach and he had also co authored the comic G.R.A.S.S. (Great Revolutionary American Standard System: the official guide for assessing the quality of marijuana on a one to ten scale). He even ran for presidency, not once, but twice as a member of the Grassroots party. It is undeniable he tried conventional roots and found himself engaging with people in public and swinging their opinions with the power of debate which was certainly something Jack Herer lived by.

Throughout his life he claimed he would make cannabis legal or die trying. Having not paid taxes for 30 years he ironically passed away on April 15th (the U.S tax day) something that would amused him. He is honoured by the community in so many ways, we have a Sativa strain, previously mentioned, as well as the Jack Herer cup. This event takes place once a year and votes are taken for the best sativa, indica and hybrid strains.

What I believe we can all take away from the life of enigma, Jack Herer, is that we must all talk to people about things we know and educate through kindness. Another pearl to take away is that we may never see the fruits of our labour but we must plant them otherwise there’s no chance it would happen. We can only speak our truth and hope that it influences the world whether that’s this day or a day we won’t see.