NORML is saddened to report the passing of Jack Herer, the founder of the modern day hemp movement. Jack suffered a heart attack after speaking at last year’s Portland Hempstalk event, and had been in a physician-induced coma for several days afterward. The past seven months have been a struggle to recover for Jack – he awakened from the coma and had been making progress in regaining his health. Friends and family confirm that Herer, known throughout the world as ‘The Hemperor,’ passed away on Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 11:07am Pacific Time in Eugene, Oregon. He was 70 years old.
Jack began his cannabis activism in earnest in the early 1970s when he “swore to work every day until pot was legal, … or [he] turned 84.” Throughout the next ten years he led several statewide marijuana legalization efforts on west coast, primarily in California and Oregon.
Jack received worldwide attention in recognition in the late 1980s and early 1990s for the publication of his seminal work, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which has now sold over 600,000 copies — making it the most widely read marijuana law reform title ever published. The book’s tagline, “How hemp can still save the world,” introduced hundreds of thousands of activists to the environmental and industrial uses of cannabis, which in turn relaunched the modern day hemp movement and global hemp industry. While researching his book, Jack unearthed a copy of the long-lost United States Department of Agriculture film, “Hemp for Victory,” which documented the federal government’s previous support for domestic hemp cultivation.
Jack’s dedication to cannabis activism was the subject of the 1989 film documentary, The Emperor of Hemp. Shortly following the release of the film, Jack suffered a stroke, which temporarily limited his speech and mobility. However, by mid-2000 Herer appeared to have made almost a full recovery from his illness, a feat he credited to the power of hemp’s therapeutic properties.
Today Jack’s name and memory lives on in the hemp activism of the millions who were influenced by his words and passion. The popular cannabis strain Jack Herer also bears his name.
NORML expresses its sincere condolences to the friends and family of Jack Herer.