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Jack Herer


Jack Herer (1939 - 2010) was one of the most influential people in the cannabis legalization movement. He was often referred to as the 'emperor of hemp', and is the author of the book "The Emperor wears no clothes". In addition to that, a documentary about his life was made, called "Emperor of hemp". This documentary was broadcasted on many American television channels and translated to French and Spanish. Jack is mainly known for founding and leading an organization called "Help and End Marijuana Prohibition"(HEMP). The legalization of cannabis is still in progress, and we partially have Jack Herer to thank for that.  


It might surprise you, but Jack was not born a hippy. In fact, he didn't smoke cannabis until he was thirty years old. Before that, he was a Republican and served as a military policeman during the Korean War. As you might suspect judging by his political views, he was strongly opposed to cannabis. When he discovered his wife smoked cannabis, this was enough of a reason for him to leave her.

In 1967, he smoked cannabis for the first time, after which his life took a radical spin. He first got offered cannabis by a woman he had fallen in love with. Opposed to what he had always thought, he really liked the effects, and he suddenly noticed the advantages of cannabis. This radically changed his view on the plant.

Some say that converts are the most militant when it comes to spreading the word. This was definitely the case with Jack Herer. Short after his first experience with weed, he started to study everything that had to do with cannabis. In 1973, not even six years after smoking his first joint, he helped develop "GRASS", short for Great Revolutionary American Standard System. This system was there to determine the quality of cannabis on a scale from one to ten. On top of that, Jack invented several smoking accessories, and opened the first-ever hemp store on Venice Beach, together with Ed Adair. In the same year, he and Ed started a campaign to legalize cannabis. 

Throughout his whole life, Jack remained a very multi-faceted person. He dressed like a hippy and listened to the Grateful Dead, and simultaneously respected the homeless veterans living under bridges in LA. Among others, these veterans helped him acquire enough signatures to realize his legalization initiatives. 

In 1983, Jack Herer refused to pay a five-dollar fine, which got him sent to prison for a short amount of time. He also refused to pay taxes throughout his whole life. During his time in prison, he started writing The Emperor wears no clothes, which, of course, was finally published on hemp paper. This book made him world-famous. 

In 1988 and 1992, jack ran for president. He only got a couple thousand votes. However, his aim was not to win, but to make a point as an activist. According to his wife Jeannie, who he married in 2000, Jack was convinced that America was the best country in the world with the best people. They only thing they (and especially the politicians) needed, he thought, was some education. 

In July 2000, Jack had a minor heart attack and a relatively heavy stroke. Due to this, he would have difficulties with speaking and moving the right side of his body. Fortunately, he recovered for the most part. In 2004, he claimed that the fly agaric - a psychoactive mushroom - had helped him recover. Unfortunately, he had another heart attack backstage at the Hempstalk festival in Portland in 2009. He never fully recovered and passed away in 2010 at age 70. Jack Herer is buried at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills.

Jack Herer - writer of The Emperor wears no clothes

The title of this book refers to the fairytale "the emperor's new clothes", written by Hans Christian Andersen. In Herer's book, Anderson's story is used as a metaphor to describe the current ban on cannabis. It was first published in 1985. The eleventh edition was published in the year 2000. In total, over 600.000 copies have been sold. Now, his book can be downloaded for free at http://www.jackherer.com/.

Jack Herer vintage book cover

Jack Herer spent twelve years collecting all the information he needed for his bestseller. In 1973, his friend Ed Adair encouraged him to start this thorough research. Among other things, Jack researched the many different ways to use hemp. This is how he discovered that one can make high-quality paper and fabric out of hemp. It can also be used as a building material. When treated the right way, one can even make cars out of it. Hemp oil is also a great source of energy, and when eaten, hemp seeds have great nutritional value. Of course, Jack also discusses the psychoactive effects of weed. Long story short, according to him, hemp can be used for many different purposes. In addition to that, it can grow practically anywhere in the world. 

Jack claimed that hemp can supply the whole world with fabric, paper and energy. If we'd completely switch to hemp, it would counter global warming, reduce pollution and prevent more deforestation. This is not even some utopic idea - in the past people used to live like this in the past when hemp was considered an important resource. Unfortunately, this came to an end when the industrial revolution started, where profit became more important than personal wellbeing. As a result, hemp was, wrongfully, criminalized. Jack was convinced that the government purposely countered the hemp industry, just because it would compromise the profits of many other industries, due to its effectiveness.

The organizations HEMP (America), Hanf Haus (Germany), Sensi Seeds/Hasj, Marihuana & Hennep museum in Amsterdam and T.H.C. (Texas Hemp Campaign) offered 100.000 dollars to the one who can prove Jack was wrong. Still, no-one has claimed this sum of money. 


1.     Cannabis-based medicine reduces multiple pathological processes in AβPP/PS1 mice. Aso E, Sánchez-Pla A, Vegas-Lozano E, Maldonado R, Ferrer I. J Alzheimers Dis. 2015;43(3):977-91. doi: 10.3233/JAD-141014.

2.     Safety and Efficacy of Medical Cannabis Oil for Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia: An-Open Label, Add-On, Pilot Study. Shelef A, Barak Y, Berger U, Paleacu D, Tadger S, Plopsky I, Baruch Y. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016 Jan 12;51(1):15-9. doi: 10.3233/JAD-150915.

3.     Cannabinoids in late-onset Alzheimer's disease. Ahmed A, van der Marck MA, van den Elsen G, Olde Rikkert M. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2015 Jun;97(6):597-606. doi: 10.1002/cpt.117. Epub 2015 Apr 17. Review.

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