Jack Herer is one of the best known names in the hemp/marijuana culture around the world. Yes, Jack Herer is the name of a strain of cannabis, but that strain is named after the man who spent his life promoting and advocating for the legalization of marijuana. He is considered by most to be the father of the modern cannabis movement, known as the first cannabis advocate of the modern era.
Herer became best known for championing marijuana's medicinal and industrial value, demystifying hemp and marijuana, and most of all for educating people on their everyday uses.
Jack Herer's Accomplishments
Jack Herer was born in New York, but spent his adult life tirelessly advocating for the legalization of Marijuana on America's west coast, mainly in Oregon and northern California. He began by starting a pipe company in the early 1970's. Despite restrictions on glass pipes, Herer made a steady profit marketing inexpensive and easy-to-produce products for smoking marijuana. He never hid or denied the purpose of what his pipes were made for.
Along the way Herer became interested in hemp's myriad industrial applications. In 1985 he wrote The Emperor Has No Clothes, his historic book which challenges the government's policy on hemp. In it, he educated us on hemp's uses throughout history and on its potential uses today.
Herer was a fountain of information when it came to hemp. Many people didn't know then (and many don't know now) that hemp does not provide the psychedelic effect its cannabis counterparts do. Hemp has been used throughout history as a source of food, paper, fuel, medicine, fiber (hemp makes great rope and clothing material), and in so many more applications Herer discusses in his book.
Did you know hemp was used around the world as a fuel source before the advent of fossil fuels? Hemp, he argued, is the perfect renewable resource for fuel because it detoxifies the air as it grows, and it pollutes less than oil as it burns, not to mention the effects hemp cultivation could have in forest preservation. Herer suggested the emergence of "Big Oil" guided the government's policies on hemp alongside the move toward banning marijuana.
Jack Herer's Activism
Jack's activism really began when he opened his shop and started making and selling paraphernalia. Remember, marijuana was a schedule 1 drug according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. As he learned more and more about hemp, he became its most vocal advocate.
Jack Herer took his activism to the highest level possible when he ran for the US presidency in two elections. Though he didn't win, he brought his legalization movement to the national stage as the Grassroots Party candidate.
In 2000 Herer suffered an serious heart attack and stroke. He credited his recovery to the use of cannabis oil. He died at the age of 70 in 2010 of a heart attack suffered moments after leaving the stage after giving a lecture at the Hempstalk festival in Portland, Oregon. "You've got to be out your mind not to smoke dope. It is the best thing the world ever had," he said.
Jack Herer's Legacy
As mentioned above, Jack Herer has been memorialized with the strain of Cannabis Sativa that carries his name, and other strains that refer to him in their names, such as Sour Jack and Jack's Cleaner, among others.
Another memorial to Jack is the annual Jack Herer Cannabis Cup, a worldwide cannabis competition that has events on most continents. The US and Colombia hold events, as do Thailand and Jamaica.
Herer also created the G.R.A.S.S. rating system in the early 1970's , a 1-to-ten scale for rating marijuana. Its name stands for "Great Revolutionary American Standard System."
Herer spent many years as a cannabis advocate and made many attempts to organize the legalization movement. In 1980 Herer partnered with Ed Adair, an associate he had worked with in previous legalization endeavors, to co-found the Reefer Raiders, which famously held an event at a Westwood, California federal building, where they attracted the news media to their cause. In a sense, every attempt to legalize owes its inspiration to Jack Herer.