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Who and What is Jack Herer?

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December 29, 2020
Jack Herer

Jack Herer. In the world of cannabis advocacy, there’s not a single name that holds more weight, history, and influence. Long before it was the ruler of sativa strains, however, Herer was a guy from Buffalo, New York, who underwent a lifetime of change in the name of one mission: save the world through the use, promotion, and legalization of industrial hemp.

Who was Jack Herer, the man?

Jack Herer

Every revolution needs a leader the world can call crazy. For hemp, Herer was that leader.

In short, Herer (pronounced like terror, though most say Huh-rare) is a famous cannabis activist best known as the author of the 1985 book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. A cult classic in the cannabis community, the book covers the hemp plant’s history in the United States, its uses, and its prohibition and legalization, making the case for why the plant, which has been legal in the US since December 2018, should be legalized for industrial use. The book is now in its 12th edition, and has been cited many times in the efforts to decriminalize and legalize both hemp and marijuana.

Growing up, Herer was a staunch Republican, and actually opposed everything about the hippie movement and its counterculture. He was one of the people who believed everything in Reefer Madness. Eventually, a woman he was dating opened his mind by asking if he’d ever smoked weed, and suggested he should. He did, and his life was changed forever.

“I was feeling sensations that I didn’t know a human being could feel. Why is this illegal?” Herer says in the Emperor of Hemp documentary about him.  

From that moment on, Herer dove into a lifetime of hemp education and advocacy. With his friend and business partner, Captain Ed Adair, he fought on the front lines for political reform surrounding the War on Drugs, and championed the countless uses of industrial hemp for food, clothing, medicine, rope, paper, etc.

It was Herer’s belief that hemp could save the world from a depletion of natural resources by replacing the industrial use of oil and trees. This extreme belief and commitment to the hemp plant as a world remedy, backed by his $50,000 (later $100,000) challenge in The Emperor Wears No Clothes for someone to prove otherwise, is one of the reasons that even fellow cannabis advocates called him crazy. However, to this day, no one has claimed that prize. Herer’s passionate activism inspired many thousands of people to advocate for hemp legalization, sparking a hemp business renaissance in the 1990s.

Herer has since become one of the biggest figures in cannabis. He died in 2010 of heart complications, but his name and legacy live on through his book, his lifetime achievement award from NORML, the annual Jack Herer Cups held all over the world, and of course, the world famous cannabis strain named in his honor.

So what is Jack Herer, the cannabis strain?

As far as cannabis strains go, Jack Herer is probably the most well-known sativa by name. The old school strain was born in The Netherlands in the mid-1990s thanks to a famous Dutch seedbank. It was was bred by combining the original Haze with Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk genetics. The result gave the world a sativa-dominant hybrid that is commonly ranked at the top of any list that features clear-headed, upbeat, and energizing cannabis strains.

Jack Herer is known for producing dense, resinous buds that are absolutely covered in a flurry of orange hairs. The buds usually produce a complex mix of piney, citrus, and skunky aromas. Some Jack phenotypes carry a slightly fruity aroma, too. In terms of flavor, you can expect all of those terpenes to turn into a generally earthy and spicy taste. Effects can vary by phenotype, but most Jack Herer consumers expect to feel a rush of energy in the head, sparking creativity and focus.

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