Long Live the Hemperor: Life and Times of the Infamous Jack Herer

There’s no doubt about it — today, cannabis is going mainstream. But that wasn’t always the case. It may seem like ancient history, but there was a time when public opinion grouped marijuana in the same category as heroin and meth. That’s not the case today, tough. What caused that change? The efforts of countless pro-cannabis activists. Today, we’ll attempt to chronicle the life and times of one of the most influential of those activists: Jack Herer, AKA, “the Hemperor.”

Who was Jack Herer?

Jack Herer 1

Jack Herer was born in Buffalo, NY on June 18, 1939. His formative years were relatively quiet. He served in Korea during the 1950s as a military policeman. During his youth, he was a staunch Republican. However, his political views would change upon his discharge from the military.

Jack Herer Becomes the Hemperor

After returning from Korea, Herer became a cannabis zealot after being introduced to the plant at age 30. He first rose to prominence in the early 1970s as the owner of several “head shops” in California.

But he didn’t waste much time before making his mark on the world. In the 1970s, Herer founded the organization Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) with fellow head shop owner Ed Adair. Herer would serve as director of the organization throughout his lifetime.

The Emperor Wears No Clothes

In 1985, Herer published his best-known work: The Emperor Wears No Clothes. The title alludes to Hans Christian Anderson’s children’s book and draws parallels to cannabis prohibition.

The book, a collection of tips and facts about cannabis plants and law, was an instant hit. In addition, the text claimed that humans could only stop climate change and save the planet with hemp’s help. Herer was so convinced that he was correct, he offered $100,000 to anyone who could discredit the book’s claims.

The text would prove to be Herer’s magnum opus. Translators reprinted the book in numerous languages. As of 2021, the publishers have continually printed the book for 35 years. It’s currently in its 14th edition. You can read the entire text for free online.

Later Years, Death, and Legacy

In 2009, Herer suffered a heart attack that would eventually cause his death. A cannabis activist to the end, the heart attack struck just moments after giving an impassioned speech at the 2009 Hempstalk Festival. Herer died on April 15, 2010, at the age of 70 from post-heart attack complications.

Herer’s passing didn’t mark the end of the Hemperor’s legacy, though. He lives on through Jack Herer, a Sativa-dominant hybrid that smokers worldwide enjoy today. The Northern Lights x Shiva Skunk cross by Dutch breeder Sensi Seeds debuted in the mid-1990s. Since then, it traversed the globe, gracing pipes, joints, and bongs everywhere while keeping the memory of the Hemperor alive.

Want to experience Herer’s legacy for yourself? Maryland medical cannabis patients can stop by our Columbia dispensary for a taste of Jack Herer flower and other amazing buds. With a balanced cannabinoid profile and invigorating effects, it’s a strain you don’t want to miss!