Also known as “The Hemperor”
Written by Keaton Roberts. Photos by Kayl Wohl and Riley Valle. Legality Edition 2023.
If you’re an avid user of cannabis or even an amateur, you have probably seen the large glimmering jar of Jack Herer on shelves of dispensaries. This sativa-based strain usually evokes uplifting feelings of happiness and creativity. However, did you know that the strain gets its name from one of the biggest cannabis activists in history? Or that he fought for the decriminalization of cannabis? Pull up a chair, roll that joint and read about the history of a cannabis pioneer who paved the way for our cannabis products today.
Jack Herer, dubbed the “Emperor of Hemp,” was born in 1939 out of Buffalo, New York. He wrote his non-fiction book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” outlining advice from his friend “Captain” Ed Adair about the many positive uses of the cannabis plant. Herer also served as the director of the Help End Marijuana Prohibition organization, or HEMP, which fought to decriminalize cannabis and advertise the health benefits of the plant.
Born into a conservative family, he used to be against the consumption of cannabis. However, after getting high for the first time in 1969, everything changed. Herer opened a head shop in Los Angeles and spent most of his time traveling around the country to lead “pro-pot rallies,” advocating for the legalization of cannabis.
Herer once said that “Hemp is by far the Earth’s premier, most renewable natural resource.” In his writings and political rallies, he dictated how cannabis could exponentially grow the American economy. He believed that the legalization of hemp could provide health benefits for consumers, and quite literally save the planet.
Herer committed his life to his activism, and that is one of the main reasons you get to enjoy that half-smoked joint of Premium Jack. In 1972, Herer fueled up for a four-decade-long battle as he took to the streets to spread awareness. In his time he organized protests, rallies and speeches where he would preach the health benefits of hemp and cannabis. In 1983, he found himself in federal prison for two weeks after refusing to pay a fine for standing in a parking lot and encouraging people to register to vote. In prison, he outlined and eventually wrote his celebrated manuscript, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” This book educated readers on the potential for hemp as a renewable source of energy, nutrients and medicine.
The book was Herer’s claim to fame, but fame was not his end goal. He continued to organize protests and speak at pro-cannabis rallies. On Sept. 13, 2009, he spoke at Portland’s Hempstalk Festival and collapsed backstage as the result of a heart attack. He ultimately passed away in Eugene, Ore. on Apr. 15, 2010 – due to complications from the heart attack at Hempstalk.
As a commemoration for his life’s work, Sensi Seeds, a Dutch cannabis seed bank company, created the strain “Jack Herer.” The strain was produced as a dominant sativa strain by combining Haze, Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk. It’s a rich strain that leaves users feeling energetic, uplifted and creative while providing a dual sense of relaxation and buzz for the mind. The strain was made to resemble Herer’s personality. His courageous, creative and chill nature is reflected in the strain’s famously energizing high. Herer’s passion for the plant changed the way we consume and utilize hemp.
Next time you feel that electric, uplifting and creative buzz from Jack Herer, think about the persistence of the man behind the strain, and his commitment to making our world a greener place.