Jack Herer’s Birthday: “The Hemperor” (June 18th)

June 15, 2023

Marijuana has come a long way over thousands of years, with significant growth in the United States over the last half decade. The driving force behind this change was the many people who advocated for the expansion of the hemp market and legalization of recreational and medical marijuana.

Among these, few are as famous as Jack Herer, the “Hemperor,” who lived between 1939 and 2010. Without Herer’s bold work on changing the public’s perception of marijuana, current legalization efforts may have faltered long before they ever began. Here is an overview of the life of Jack Herer, including his many accomplishments and the legacy he left behind.

Who Was Jack Herer?

Jack Herer was an influential public figure who advocated for the greater accessibility and utility of marijuana. He explained that the cannabis plant had been used throughout history for its wide variety of helpful properties, and Herer alleged that the American government was intentionally hiding hemp’s many uses as medicine, paper, fibers and fuel to keep the public angry about cannabis products.

As part of his outspoken advocate work with marijuana, he penned the infamous The Emperor Wears No Clothes—a 1985 book that comprehensively examines historical uses for hemp and even offers a bounty of $100,000 to any reader who can disprove the claims that the book makes.

The book, whose title plays off of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” relies on the parallelisms between this fairytale and the United States’ approach to hemp to allegorically make its point.

Herer was so impassioned by the cause that he opened numerous shops, first as a glass pipe businessman and later focusing more generally on hemp. While his two runs for president in 1988 and 1992 only garnered a few thousand votes for the Grassroots Party, he took his conviction about the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis products with him in all facets of his life.

The Impacts of Herer’s Work

Herer was an influential figure who lit the fire underneath many of the more recent activists whose work has since pushed legalization through the states. Herer’s The Emperor Wears No Clothes remains a popular resource for the hemp industry, and the book has been in continuous print for more than 35 years, featuring 14 separate editions. As of 2023, 38 states have legalized marijuana for medical use, and 21 offer full recreational legalization as well.

Herer has since been memorialized with a strain of Sativa-dominant cannabis that was named after him. “The Jack,” also simply called JH, Premium Jack or Platinum Jack, is widely used medicinally and creates a happy and creative mood. It smells and tastes woody or slightly like pine.

Jack Herer Strain

What Happened to Jack Herer?

Even at 70 years old, Jack continued his passion for marijuana advocacy. He suffered a minor heart attack and stroke simultaneously in July of 2000 while attending a public event. This health scare temporarily left him with movement difficulties on one side of his body, but he almost entirely recovered. It wasn’t until September 2009 when the strain that this first heart attack placed on his body would become more evident.

While attending the Hempstalk Festival in Oregon, Herer experienced another heart attack—this one much more severe. He remained in the hospital for around a month after the incident before being transferred for additional care. He was awake and observing the people talking to him, but he seemingly lacked the faculty to communicate back.

Almost seven months later, in April 2010, Herer’s condition worsened due to the damage that his body sustained from the two heart attacks he experienced within the previous ten years. With his wife at his side in the residence they were renting in Oregon, Herer passed away.

He lived long enough to watch the movement that he had fought so hard to gain momentum, as President Barack Obama was making the first moves to eliminate prosecution for people who possessed marijuana for medical use. Without the legacy left behind by Jack Herer, the cannabis scene in America would likely be in a very different place today.

Celebrate the Hemperor with High-Quality Cannabis Strains

Jack Herer dedicated much of his life to encouraging the increased use of cannabis products—not only for enjoyment but to help the environment and reduce waste. At Pure Oasis, we are proud to support our community in similar efforts to improve lives, which is why we educate our local hobbyists and offer as many resources as we can, such as a scholarship. Stop by our store to discover our wide variety of cannabis products and celebrate the Hemperor with us on June 18th.

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