Jack Herer (/ˈhɛrər/; June 18, 1939 – April 15, 2010), sometimes called the "Emperor of Hemp", was an American cannabis rights activist and the author of the 1985 book The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Herer founded and served as the director of the organization Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP).[1]

Jack Herer
Jack Herer in Washington, DC, in 1989.
BornJune 18, 1939
DiedApril 15, 2010(2010-04-15) (aged 70)
Burial placeEden Memorial Park Cemetery, Mission Hills, Los Angeles
Other namesThe Emperor of Hemp
The Hemperor
Occupation(s)Activist, author
OrganizationsHelp End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP)
Global Cannabis Community Founding Father
Front Line Freedom Fighter
Known forThird Eye Shoppe
Notable workThe Emperor Wears No Clothes
Jack Herer and Dana Beal at the September 1989 Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Fest in Madison, Wisconsin.

As an activist, he advocated for the decriminalization of the cannabis plant and argued that it could be used as a renewable source of fuel, medicine, food, fiber, and paper/pulp and that it can be grown in virtually any part of the world for medicinal as well as economic purposes. He further asserted that the U.S. government has been deliberately hiding the proof of this from its own citizens.


An early glass pipe entrepreneur, Herer opened his first head shop in 1973.[2]

In 1985, Herer self-published The Emperor Wears No Clothes, a book — in 2020 in its fourteenth edition after having been continuously in print for 35 years — frequently cited in efforts to decriminalize and legalize cannabis and to expand the use of hemp for industrial use.

In 1987, Herer opened the Third Eye Shoppe head shop in Portland, Oregon. Herer's son Mark Herer took over as the shop's owner in 2001. The Third Eye closed on March 31, 2017.[3]

A former Goldwater Republican, Herer twice ran for President of the United States, in 1988 (1,949 votes)[4] and 1992 (3,875 votes),[5] as the Grassroots Party candidate.

Health problems and deathEdit

Herer speaking at the 2009 Hempstalk Festival, moments before his second heart attack

In July 2000, Herer suffered a minor heart attack and a major stroke while attending the BioFach trade show, resulting in difficulties speaking and moving the right side of his body.[6] Herer mostly recovered, and claimed in May 2004 that treatment with the Amanita muscaria, a psychoactive mushroom, was the "secret".[7]

On September 12, 2009, Herer suffered another heart attack while backstage at the Hempstalk Festival in Portland, Oregon.[8]

He was discharged to another facility on October 13, 2009. Paul Stanford of The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation said, "He is waking up and gazing appropriately when someone is talking... but he is not really communicating in any way."[9]

On April 15, 2010, Herer died in Eugene, Oregon, from complications related to the September 2009 heart attack. He was 70 years old at the time of his death.[10][11] Herer was buried at the Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.


European experts on hemp, like Dr. Hayo M.G. van der Werf, author of the doctoral thesis Crop physiology of fibre hemp (1994), and Dr. Ivan Bocsa criticized Herer for making unrealistic claims regarding the potential of hemp (cf. the work of Lyster Hoxie Dewey).[12]

  • Herer claimed that hemp produces higher yields than other crops. Van der Werf argued that is simply wrong. Under most favorable growing conditions, other crops such as maize, sugar beet, or potato produced similar dry matter yields. Fiber hemp is in no way exceptional in terms of weight yield.[13]
  • Herer claimed that hemp hurds, which make up 60 to 80% of the stem dry weight, contain 77% cellulose. Van der Werf argued that is wrong. Cellulose content of hemp hurds has been found to vary between 32 and 38% (Bedetti and Ciaralli 1976, van der Werf 1994). Possibly, Herer confused the hurds, which form the woody core of the hemp stem, with the bark, which forms the outer layer of the hemp stem. The bark contains the long bast fibers which are used in textile manufacturing.[13]


A sativa-dominant hybrid strain of cannabis[14] was named after Herer in honor of his work. The Jack Herer strain was originally created by Sensi Seeds. Today almost all seed banks carry their own take on this famous cannabis favorite.[15] This strain has won several awards, including the 7th High Times Cannabis Cup. Jack Herer was also inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame at the 16th Cannabis Cup in recognition of his first book.[16]

The Jack Herer Cup, created by R. Foreman is held in Amsterdam, Colombia, Las Vegas, Jamaica, Germany, Oklahoma City, Michigan and Thailand each year to honor the Worldwide Cannabis Legalization Movement that Jack Herer helped start. The godfather of the cannabis movement's legacy is carried on today by his son Dan Herer.[17]

Emperor of Hemp is a documentary made about Herer's life that aired on PBS stations throughout the U.S., and was translated into French and Spanish.[18]



  • (with Al Emmanuel) G.R.A.S.S.: Great Revolutionary American Standard System: The Official Guide for Assessing the Quality of Marijuana on the 1 to 10 Scale (Primo Publications, 1973)
  • The Emperor Wears No Clothes (Van Nuys, California: Ah Ha Publishing, 1985, 1990) ISBN 978-1878125002


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Erowid Jack Herer Vault". erowid.org. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
  2. ^ "Selling Of Drug Paraphernalia Goes From Chic To Underground". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on January 30, 2016. Retrieved January 24, 2016.
  3. ^ Cizmar, Martin. "The Story of One of the Greatest Cannabis Advocates Who Ever Lived and the Strain That Bears His Name: With the closure of Third Eye, the Potlander wanted to revisit the life of Jack Herer," Archived December 24, 2022, at the Wayback Machine Willamette Week (April 18, 2017).
  4. ^ Minnesota Secretary of State (November 1988). "Minnesota Election Results 1988, p. 18" (PDF). Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 15, 2017. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  5. ^ Klein, Patricia A. (June 1993). "Federal Elections 92: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, p. 9" (PDF). Federal Election Commission. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 10, 2016. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  6. ^ "Jack Herer suffers heart attack" Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Pete Brady, Cannabis Culture Magazine, July 20, 2000
  7. ^ "An Afternoon With Jack Herer" Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Sean Luse, The Free Press, May 23, 2004
  8. ^ ""The Emperor Wears No Clothes" Marijuana Author Jack Herer Collapses After Stage Appearance at Portland Hempstalk". Cannabis Culture. September 13, 2009. Archived from the original on September 22, 2009. Retrieved September 14, 2009.
  9. ^ "Jack Herer Strives To Recover As The Fight For Hemp Goes On" Archived October 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Bonnie King, Salem-news.com , October 13, 2009
  10. ^ "The Hemperor, Jack Herer has Died" Archived April 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Bonnie King, Salem-news.com , April 15, 2010
  11. ^ Saker, Anne (April 15, 2010). "Jack Herer, father of marijuana legalization movement, dies at age 70 in Eugene". The Oregonian. Archived from the original on April 19, 2010. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
  12. ^ Dewey LH (1943). "Fiber production in the western hemisphere". United States Printing Office, Washington. p. 67. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Hemp facts and hemp fiction". Archived from the original on July 13, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
  14. ^ "Jack Herer" Archived February 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Sensi Seeds
  15. ^ Zamnesia blog, 2015 "Jack Herer cannabis strain review and infomration" Archived April 21, 2021, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "History of the Cup" Archived March 24, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Steven Hager, High Times Cannabis Cup, September 23, 2004.
  17. ^ "Jack Herer Cup". Jack Herer Cup. Archived from the original on August 16, 2022. Retrieved August 16, 2022.
  18. ^ "Watch "Emperor of Hemp" Full Documentary Online Free". www.snagfilms.com. Archived from the original on October 27, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2012.

External linksEdit