Many a cannabis enthusiast visiting a dispensary has run across the cannabis strain Jack Herer. It’s a very popular strain, one of the most popular for vape cartridge distillates. So you may wonder, who is this man? It’s very rare that a strain will be named after a person, so they must have been pretty important for such an honor.


Jack Herer was a pioneering cannabis activist

Jack Herer was born in 1939, making him a rare case of a member of the Silent Generation whom is still well-known today. He opened a head shop in 1973, where he sold glass pipes and other paraphernalia – of course, labeled “for tobacco use only” in those prohibition days. The shop was called “Third Eye Shoppe” and was located in Portland, Oregon.

Just 2 years prior, according to his High Times interview in 1990, he had discovered hemp when he began working on the California Marijuana Initiative (CMI), one of the original activist organizations to push for legalizing hemp.

Even though he reports that his first time smoking marijuana was on a date, Herer’s original approach to advocating for hemp legalization was from an environmentalist angle. Herer asserted that hemp was “the fastest growing sustainable biomass on the planet.” To be sure, this assertion is at least close to the truth; today hemp is one of the fore-runners in possible solutions to our present global climate change problem.

Jack Herer would also go on to run as a Grassroots Party candidate in presidential races 1988 and 1992.


Jack Herer is the author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes

In 1985, Jack Herer condensed his environmentalist observations about hemp’s potential into the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. While many of his base assumptions were spot on, Herer did veer off into conspiracy theory because he thought marijuana prohibition was motivated by an industrial embargo which feared that industrial uses for hemp would put them out of business. Today we know that the War on Drugs was more a matter of racial bigotry and raw conservatism, fueled by sensationalist propaganda and politicians looking for a scapegoat. Herer barked up a few wrong trees in fingering companies like DuPont. However, he still gets a lot right overall.

Herer also wrote G.R.A.S.S. : Great Revolutionary American Standard System in 1973 with co-author Al Emmanuel.

The weed strain Jack Herer was named after him posthumously

Jack Herer passed away in 2010, at age 70, after a string of cardiac problems. While he never lived to see the legalization of cannabis for recreational use (Washington and Colorado, 2012), he did see the launch of legalization for medical use starting from the late 1990s, and was already honored and recognized for his contributions to cannabis activism. He was known as the “Emperor of Hemp” and was a regular guest speaker at festivals and events. Jack Herer was also the subject of the 1999 film documentary Emperor of Hemp, embedded here:


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