Jack Herer: The Man Behind The Strain

Jack Herer is a popular, sativa-dominant strain of cannabis that is named after a popular American cannabis activist whose grassroots efforts led to cannabis’s legalization for medicinal and recreational use. While many enjoy this award-winning strain in the form of flower, oil, or concentrates, many have not heard the full story of the man the strain is named after – the one who’s been donned “The Emperor of Hemp”

At CannaCulture Collective, we revere pioneers like Jack Herer who paved the way for cannabis legalization in states like California, and wish to share that story with our Central California clientele. Simply put, we wouldn’t be where we are today without activists like Jack Herer. If Jack Herer is a favorite strain or if you are interested in seeing what all the buzz is about, please check out what Jack Herer products we have in stock. You can either check out our up-to-date online menu or stop by our dispensary and talk to one of our expert budtenders. To reach us directly, please call (408) 264-7877.

History of Hemp in America

To understand Jack Herer’s legacy, we must first delve into what he was advocating for – and against. Found in thread and rope from 4,000 BCE, archaeologists believe the cultivation of hemp played a vital role in many ancient civilizations.[1] Hemp was cultivated in temperate regions of Eurasia for thousands of years and was first brought to North America in 1606, where it was farmed in European settlements in modern-day USA and Canada.[2] A popular crop in the original colonies, hemp was used to make rope, paper, and apparel. Theories persist that Betsy’s Ross’s original thirteen colonies flag was made from hemp as were the first two drafts of the Declaration of Independence. In fact, hemp was so popular and widely sown that in 1765 it replaced the cultivation of tobacco at George Washington’s home of Mount Vernon.[2] Washington’s famous saying “…make the most of the Indian hemp seed and sow it everywhere…” would later become an oft-repeated phrase for Jack Herer. 

While the hemp industry was confined to Kentucky from the end of the Civil War until 1912, hemp cultivation rose during World War I, expanding to 12 states. However, in 1938, the US passed the Marihuana Tax Act, placing marijuana under the control of the Treasury Department. Farmers required a permit to grow cannabis. Though World War II saw a brief resurgence in hemp production for items such as parachutes and other textiles, the 1938 legislation effectively eliminated hemp production in the states once the war ended. In 1970, the US government nailed what many saw as the final nail in hemp’s coffin and passed the Controlled Substance Act, which criminalized all uses of cannabis–even medicinal. It is here a 31-year-old Jack Herer begins his life-long efforts.

Jack’s Early Life

Jack Herer was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 18th, 1939. After being raised in Buffalo, New York, Jack joined the US Army at age 17, where he was a military policeman during the Korean War. In his own words, Jack was a “Goldwater Republican” at this stage in his life, speaking out against anti-war protestors throughout most of the ’60s, even naming his eldest son Barry. After a divorce at the age of 27, Jack moved to California and resided there for the majority of his life. In the summer of 1969, at the age of 30, Jack had his first experience with cannabis – smoking what he called “the Sammy Davis Jr. strain” of Acapulco Gold. From this watershed experience, Jack Herer became what friends called “a most vigorous zealot”.[3] 

G.R.A.S.S

In 1973, when he was working with California Marijuana Initiative, Jack made a commitment with friend and business partner Ed Adair that they would continue working until cannabis was legalized, or until they were 84 years old, or until death.[4] Jack co-authored G.R.A.S.S: Great Revolutionary American Standard System, a cartoon strip that was the official guide for assessing the quality of cannabis on a 1-10 scale. This widely read cartoon strip sent Jack Herer into semi-celebrity status. When he opened the world’s first hemp store in Venice Beach, his celebrity status was further solidified. At this hemp store, Herer invented different smoking accessories, immersed himself in the study of all things cannabis, and launched campaigns for cannabis legalization.

The Emperor Wears No Clothes

From here, Jack Herer began what he would later call his biggest achievement in life. After more than a decade spent researching and organizing, and condensing all the facts, Jack Herer published his now epochal book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. First published in 1985, the book explores the real reasons that led to the criminalization of hemp in the US. Herer’s book includes source documents from Congressional hearings in the 1930s that show how the 1937 Marihuana Act was railroaded through legislation. He explores the idea that, with DuPont’s advent of nylon, the petroleum industry had unique interests to undermine hemp cultivation after World War I. With the criminalization of hemp, Herer claims that 80% of DuPont’s products can freely exist.[4] He goes on to say not only are hemp industrial goods higher in quality and efficiency but that if petroleum products were replaced with hemp products the Greenhouse Effect would reverse and global pollution would begin to decline. While the book was criticized by skeptics at the time, Jack Herer posed a challenge on the back cover to any doubter who read his book: “$100,000 to anyone who can disprove the claims made within.” Legend says the $100,000 check still remains uncashed

H.E.M.P: The Strain Is Born

Herer’s book spread like a wildfire through the California cannabis movement. Soon, Jack’s words led to more activists and outreach movements. Herer founded and served as director of the organization Help End Marijuana Prohibition (H.E.M.P.), which acted as a principal voice in rallying the legalization movement throughout the US. From his efforts, Jack Herer became a folk legend in the cannabis community. His words and notoriety stretched across the Atlantic to aid in the European legalization of cannabis movements. 

His influence led Sensi Seeds, a Dutch cannabis seed bank founded in 1985, to cultivate the now famous Jack Herer strain. While the exact formula is a well-guarded industry secret, Jack Herer is thought to be the product of Haze, Northern Light #5, and Shiva Skunk. This sativa-dominant hybrid has between 15-24% THC and smells of an awakening orange-lemon scent while emitting a dark pine flavor. Consumers experience a well-balanced cerebral and body high that leaves them attentively relaxed. This feeling leads to waves of creativity and sociability. Jack Herer is easily enjoyed as a day-time pick-me-up to help reinvigorate your energy, retune your focus, and relax your ailments. Due to its flavor, effects, and medicinal properties, Jack Herer is a wildly popular strain for novice to seasoned cannabis consumers, winning nine Cannabis Cup titles

Posthumous Victory

Having lived in California for the majority of his life, Jack saw the state as his home. With his two hemp stores, one in Venice Beach and the other in Van Nuys, Herer’s base of operations was set in The Golden State. It was here he made a pact to spend the rest of his life fighting for legalization. It was here he researched and gathered all the materials necessary to publish what would be his most cherished achievement and challenge the sea of skeptics to prove him wrong. It was here he awakened a new generation of activists and organizers to spearhead grassroots efforts and enact societal change. And it was here, on November 9, 2016, The Adult Use of Marijuana Act was passed, legalizing personal use and cultivation of cannabis for anyone 21 years or older. While those who knew Jack and revered his work celebrated, they did so in his memory. Jack Herer had passed away six years prior at the age of seventy-one. Although Jack did not get to reap the seeds he had spent most of his life sowing, the cannabis movement would not have summited the mountains we stand on today without his work. Jack’s name lives on in his work and in the strain that has brought so many people to his work. Jack Herer embodies the energy and focus of a man who never relented, never faltered, and always persisted – even in spirit – to reacquaint mankind with an old friend. 

Our Jack Herer Collection

At CannaCulture, we are proud to offer Jack Herer to our clientele. Many growers and cannabis cultivators have cross-bred Jack Herer and many other popular strains include Premium Jack, Lemon Jack, & Sour Jack. If you would like to see what Jack Herer products have in store, be sure to check out our up-to-date online menu. Our friendly and knowledgeable budtenders can teach you about which product fits your desired experience. Be sure to visit our delivery page to see how we can bring your favorite product directly to you! Also, if you aren’t a VIP member yet, you’re missing out on:

  • 2% back for every dollar spent before tax
  • Bring friends and family and get a pre-roll for less than $2
  • Be the first to get notified about our demo days with BOGOs

Stop by our showroom or give us a call at (408) 264-7877!

References

  1. Mia Touw (1981) The Religious and Medicinal Uses of Cannabis in China, India and Tibet, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 13:1, 23-34, DOI: 10.1080/02791072.1981.10471447 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02791072.1981.10471447
  2. Cherney, J., & Small, E. (2016). Industrial Hemp in North America: Production, Politics and Potential. Agronomy, 6(4), 58. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy6040058
  3. George Washington’s Mount Vernon. (2021). George Washington’s Mount Vernon; Mount Vernon.https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/spurious-quotations/
  4. Rogers, P. (2020). Jack – JackHerer.com. Jackherer.com. https://jackherer.com/about-2/
  5. Hager, S. (2021). JACK HERER | High Times | APRIL 1990. High Times | the Complete Archive. https://archive.hightimes.com/article/1990/4/1/jack-herer
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