As Father's Day approaches, we not only honor the fathers who have played pivotal roles in our lives but also commemorate the life and contributions of an extraordinary man whose birthday coincides with this special day.
Jack Herer, a renowned cannabis activist and author, left an indelible mark on the world with his tireless advocacy for cannabis legalization and his revolutionary book, "The Emperor Wears No Clothes." This Father's Day, we take a moment to reflect on the remarkable life and enduring legacy of Jack Herer, a man who not only shaped the cannabis movement but also inspired countless individuals around the globe.
The Early Years: Jack Herer Pre-Cannabis Use
Jack Herer's path to becoming a prominent figure in the cannabis legalization movement was far from predictable. Born in 1939 in New York City, Herer's early years offered little indication that he would eventually emerge as a fervent advocate for cannabis. He identified himself as a "Goldwater Republican," aligning with the conservative values of the influential Arizona senator who inspired figures like Ronald Reagan.
Even as a young man, Herer displayed no inclination toward counterculturalism, and he served as a military policeman in Korea. It wasn't until he and his family relocated to Los Angeles in 1967, where he worked for a neon sign company, that his unique insights into the world of marijuana pipes began to take shape.
Jack Herer’s Cannabis Advocacy
Although Herer had yet to become a cannabis consumer, his perspective took a transformative turn in 1969 when a girl he was dating introduced him to one of the legendary strains of all time, Acapulco Gold.
This encounter with a bag of top-shelf weed from that era had a profound impact on Herer's perception of the plant. He delved into the study of cannabis, dedicating his time to understanding its various aspects. By 1973, he had made a significant contribution to a comic book titled "Great Revolutionary American Standard System" (or G.R.A.S.S.), serving as the official guide for assessing the quality of marijuana.
The success of the comic book propelled Herer into the heart of the underground cannabis culture and community in California. Inspired by his newfound passion, he established "High Country" in Venice Beach, a shop specializing in cannabis glassware and consumption accessories.
During this period, Herer crossed paths with another headshop owner, Ed "Captain Ed" Adair. Their shared love for the plant led them to embark on a groundbreaking journey, becoming pioneers in the movement for hemp and cannabis legalization, pushing the boundaries and advocating for change.
Unfortunately, in 1983, stricter regulations were introduced concerning paraphernalia, leading to repeated raids on Herer's shop. He faced fines and eventually served two years of probation. By the mid-1980s, Herer had transformed into a passionate activist, often found on the Venice boardwalk, energetically engaging and enlightening intrigued onlookers with his distinctively enthusiastic style.
Becoming The Emperor of Hemp
By immersing himself in Los Angeles neighborhoods known for housing the homeless, Jack Herer gained invaluable insights into the use of cannabis for physical and mental health. Particularly notable was the significant number of homeless individuals who were war veterans, a demographic that stood to benefit immensely from the plant's natural healing properties.
During a protest, Herer's advocacy landed him behind bars, serving a two-week sentence in federal prison. It was during this time that he embarked on penning what would become a quick classic: "The Emperor Wears No Clothes." Notably, Herer chose to publish the book on hemp paper, making it one of the pioneering works to utilize this environmentally friendly material. The non-fiction book aimed to present the history and science of cannabis in an accessible format, tailored to its target audience of consumers.
The timing of the publication aligned with Ronald Reagan's intensified efforts in the "War on Drugs," fueling Herer's determination to shatter stigmas and disseminate the truth surrounding cannabis. Over the years, "The Emperor Wears No Clothes" achieved a significant milestone, with over 1 million copies printed and distributed globally.
To promote the book and advocate for the beneficial effects of cannabis, Herer took the lead in organizing protests that spanned coast to coast. Alongside his activist friends Rick Pfrommer and Debby Goldsberry, he established the Cannabis Action Network (CAN). CAN orchestrated rallies and events, fostering a sense of community and solidarity in support of cannabis legalization. Remarkably, within a five-year period, they managed to visit a total of 49 states, leaving an indelible mark on the nationwide movement.
Continued Cannabis Activism
As Jack Herer's popularity and influence grew, one of his notable achievements was his co-authorship of the California Hemp Initiative (CHI) in 1990. This draft legislation, while not enacted, laid the groundwork for discussions on adult-use and commercial distribution of industrial hemp and medical marijuana.
Shortly thereafter, in 1996, Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, was approved in California. While initially disappointed that Prop 215 only covered medical use and not adult-use as proposed in the CHI, Herer eventually came to terms with the outcome. The passage of Prop 215 demonstrated the progressive mindset of his fellow activists and colleagues at the time, aligning with the evolving attitudes we see today.
But Herer's journey did not conclude with one victory or advancing age. He remained committed to attending rallies and advocating for cannabis. In 2009, while participating in a rally in Portland, Oregon, he suffered a heart attack backstage after passionately proclaiming to the crowd, "You've got to be out of your mind not to smoke dope... It is the best thing the world has ever had!" This incident exemplified Herer's unwavering dedication and his enduring belief in the benefits of cannabis. Several months after suffering this heart attack, Herer sadly passed away.
Legacy of The Hemperor
The exact details of the creation of the Jack Herer strain are not publicly disclosed, and there are varying accounts regarding its genetic lineage. However, it is widely believed to be a sativa-dominant hybrid that was developed by a group of breeders and growers in the Netherlands.
The breeders at Sensi Seeds, a renowned cannabis seed bank founded by Ben Dronkers in 1985, are often credited with creating the Jack Herer strain. Sensi Seeds is known for its commitment to preserving and breeding high-quality cannabis genetics, and they have developed numerous iconic strains over the years.
These breeders behind the creation of the Jack Herer strain aimed to capture the essence of Jack Herer's advocacy and passion for cannabis legalization. They sought to develop a strain that not only showcased desirable traits but also paid homage to Herer's efforts to promote cannabis awareness and education.
In terms of its genetic makeup, the Jack Herer strain is thought to be a hybrid, with a sativa-dominant profile. It is believed to be a cross of various landrace strains, potentially including Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Shiva Skunk. These strains were selected for their desirable characteristics, such as their uplifting effects, potent potency, and distinct flavors.
Overall, the creation of the Jack Herer strain was driven by a desire to pay tribute to Jack Herer and his advocacy for cannabis. It was an effort to develop a strain that reflected his passion, while also providing consumers with an enjoyable and uplifting cannabis experience.
A Thank You For Jack Herer
In conclusion, Jack Herer's life and advocacy have left an indelible mark on the cannabis industry, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his tireless efforts. His unwavering commitment to cannabis legalization, along with his groundbreaking book "The Emperor Wears No Clothes," provided a foundation for education and awareness about the plant's benefits. Herer's pioneering spirit and dedication paved the way for the thriving cannabis industry we know today. From the creation of the iconic Jack Herer strain to his relentless activism, his influence resonates throughout the cannabis community.
As we continue to witness the expanding acceptance and legalization of cannabis around the world, we must remember the visionary who sparked the flame of change. Jack Herer's legacy lives on, and the industry is forever grateful for his instrumental role in shaping a future where cannabis is recognized and celebrated for its immense value. If not for Jack Herer, businesses like ours at E1011 Labs could not thrive or possibly even exist. Today, and everyday, we thank Jack Herer for his push to normalize using all parts of the cannabis plant.