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In memoriam: Jack Herer (1939-2010)

Jack Herer and his award winning cannabis strain

Jack Herer and his award winning cannabis strain

Jack Herer, the Hemperor – author, activist and all-round cannabis-hero – passed away on April 15 2010 at the age of 70.

Jack’s 1985 book The Emperor Wears No Clothes is probably the biggest single influence behind the modern hemp movement. Originally self-published, Emperor is currently in its 11th edition and has sold over 600,000 copies.

The book makes a powerful argument for personal freedom to grow and use psychoactive cannabis and also describes how large-scale industrial hemp cultivation can help humans to stop destroying the planet through deforestation, pollution and over-reliance on petrochemicals.

The Emperor Wears No Clothes confirmed in great detail what many cannabis enthusiasts knew or suspected – that the forbidden weed and the world’s best natural fibre were one and the same. The book also argues that one of the main reasons cannabis was prohibited in the 1930s was to prevent it from being a serious (and superior) competitor to wood-pulp paper, cotton, synthetic fibres and patentable pharmaceutical medicines.

Cannabis is so efficient and versatile that it threatened several industrial monopolies and the fact that it was also used as a cheap and low-risk recreational substance (especially by people of ‘undesirable’ race or financial circumstances) was simply a convenient excuse to ban it.

Emperor also presented many other arguments that are now central to the modern hemp movement: that hemp cultivation requires no pesticides, herbicides or artificial fertilisers; that a hectare of hemp can produce four times as much paper as a hectare of trees; that hemp fibre needs a few if any chemicals to be turned into high quality paper and textiles, unlike the toxic processes needed to produce cotton and wood-pulp paper; that hemp can be cultivated as a highly nutritious food-crop and is an efficient source of fuels such as ethanol and bio-diesel.
Jack Herer devoted more than half of his life to fighting for the cause of cannabis, which also made him an activist for the environment and freedom. The Emperor Wears No Clothes was followed by a second book, Grass and Jack was the subject of a biopic entitled The Emperor of Hemp. A film version of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, featuring other famous friends of cannabis reading from Jack’s magnum opus is due to be released soon.

Above all, Jack Herer was never one to rest on his laurels. For over 30 years, he continued travelling, speaking and drawing attention to the countelss positive aspects of cannabis, spreading the message that hemp can literally save the planet when its irrational prohibition is finally ended.

Jack Herer presented with a cannabis cup

Jack Herer presented with a cannabis cup

Thanks to Jack Herer, that day is now closer than ever. He will always be remembered and honoured by the cannabis community for his massive contribution to the cause.

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