Are you familiar with “The Hemperor” Jack Herer? The world was a very different place when he was born 80 years ago today, on June 18th, but he dedicated his life to making it better. Whether his story is one you know and love—or one you’re just discovering—we all owe him a debt of gratitude. Let’s celebrate the birthday of the father of the cannabis legalization movement, and get to know the man behind the legend.
Meet Jack Herer
Cannabis and hemp crusader, Jack Herer, was called everything from a “crazy man,” to a “boisterous rabble-rouser,” and even a “cult folk hero,” but his inspiring story begins in an unlikely way.
Raised in a traditional Jewish family in upstate New York, he spent the first decades of his life as a patriotic Vietnam veteran and hard-working businessman. Living through the era of Reefer Madness propaganda, Jack was critical of the developing 1960’s era counterculture movement because its anti-war message was seen as un-American. However, Jack’s view quickly transformed when he discovered the power of the cannabis plant and its potential to change the world.
Fueled by his boundless curiosity, Jack devoured all the cannabis information he could get his hands on. He was moved by the therapeutic potential of cannabis and infuriated when he learned that hemp could have been embraced in our country as a sustainable source of paper, fiber, food, fuel and medicine. Jack was inspired to develop a vision for a better America and made it his patriotic duty to fight for our freedom to legally access cannabis, a sustainable environment, and a peaceful planet. He set out on a mission to educate the world with the truth, and transform a government that was holding it back.
Jack, The Activist
Beginning in 1972, Jack’s passion for grassroots activism took him to the streets where he organized rallies and protests, collected petition signatures, and helped people register to vote. Jack captivated everyone he met with his rare blend of dazzling wisdom, fierce intensity, and gigantic heart. He opened the world’s first hemp store in Venice Beach, California where he taught people to see past the lies about hemp and worked to promote legalization initiatives.
In 1983 Jack refused to pay a $5 fine for registering voters in a parking lot and was forced to spend a two-week stint in federal prison. Luckily for the world, something during those two weeks sparked his intellectual diligence. Sitting in his prison cell, he began outlining the book that would become his bestseller; The Emperor Wears No Clothes.
His 1985 masterpiece tells the story of the lost history of hemp and its potential as a renewable source of medicine, food, and fuel. It teaches that hemp can replace fossil fuels and tree-based materials, therefore ending the related deforestation, pollution, and climate crisis. Selling almost one million copies in five languages, the book painted a new picture of a plant that had been demonized for decades and transformed Jack into the legendary father of the hemp movement.
Jack spent almost 40 years traveling the country to speak and campaign for cannabis
decriminalization, and his fire burned fiercely right up to the end. He suffered a heart attack after giving an empowering speech at Portland’s Hempstalk 2009, and later passed away from complications in 2010.
Although he isn’t here to experience the cannabis movement today, he did live long enough to see his ideas become a part of mainstream American thought. His refusal to give up on what he believed was the fuel that pushed his ideas to the forefront of our culture, and to a place where lawmakers could no longer turn their backs to the truth.
Jack’s relentless pursuits changed the face of the cannabis industry in America, and his work continues to move it forward. The Emperor Wears No Clothes has become the manifesto of the current cannabis legalization movement and is still cited today by those fighting cannabis prohibition across the world.
The Original Jack Herer™ honors a man whose life work laid the foundation for cannabis legalization today. The brand helps continue Jack’s vision with their founder Dan Herer (Jack’s son) and the Jack Herer foundation, in honor of the global cannabis and hemp movement. Dan Herer continues his father’s legacy as a global advocate of cannabis and its continued acceptance and legalization around the world.
If you’re out there right now enjoying cannabis, take a moment to think of Jack. He was a force of nature that helped pave the way to your cannabis rights and to a better world for us all.
Happy birthday, Jack!