From the Family of Jack Herer: The Hemperor would Support Prop 19

From the Family of Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes

Van Nuys, California, August, 2010

Dear Friends of Hemp and Cannabis,

Our father, Jack Herer, was a man of leadership, compassion and idealism. He worked relentlessly for decades to achieve his dream of legalizing Cannabis hemp in all its forms, personal, medical and industrial. He wanted Cannabis to be free and open, and to be given full respect for its enormous economic, environmental and cultural benefits.

As an idealist, Jack was adverse to half measures. He originally opposed Prop 215 because it stopped at medical use only. He initially opposed Senate Bill 420 because it set limited quantities as a safe harbor. Over time, however, he came to appreciate the freedoms they created, and took pride in the role he played in inspiring those changes. Jack’s great fear about Prop 215 and SB 420 was that people would accept those limits, become complacent and stop working for full legalization. He feared we would be stuck with medical use forever.

Likewise, Jack railed against Tax Cannabis 2010, now Proposition 19, and its plan for limited legalization and local authority to tax and regulate marijuana sales to adults 21 and above. It falls far short of what he wanted. Jack ‘wanted it all,’ and Prop 19 is just a part of that dream. Unfortunately, Jack passed away before Prop 19 made the 2010 ballot; so many people think he would still oppose it. We don’t believe that, and we ask that everyone stop saying he would cling to that position as we move toward the Nov. 2 vote.

As his family, we want the world to know that the last thing Jack Herer would want is for Californians to vote to keep Cannabis illegal. He was smart and had the political savvy to know that once a measure is on the ballot, the time for bickering has passed. That is why he campaigned for Prop 215 despite its shortcomings. That is why, were he able, he would now be telling voters to rally around and Vote Yes on Prop 19.

Does that mean he would want everyone to stop and be happy with the modest changes that Prop 19 affords? Absolutely not! What Jack would want us to do right now is to support Prop 19, and come Nov. 3 he would be right back again, telling you to renew your commitment to bring a comprehensive California Hemp and Health Initiative to the voters in 2012 or some future date. Jack Herer would ask – no, he would demand your yes vote on Prop 19, along with a pledge to continue fighting for the plant, the people and the planet.

It is true that Prop 19 does not fulfill our father’s dream; but it takes us much closer to achieving it than we are now, and for that reason we, his family, endorse Prop 19 today.

Please vote yes on Prop 19 Nov 2, but do it with the dedication to keep working toward complete legalization in Jack’s honor.

Sincerely, Dan Herer et al.

48 thoughts

  1. That is a nice way to look at it, I think 19 will be good and yes we should go forward after it and demand more… I am glad this came out from Jack’s family in a nice way like this… I am sure he is proud 🙂

  2. Yes we must honor those who have worked so hard. May your father rest in peace and we must never be satisfied with political compromising. But we need to vote this step into law, then keep moving forward for “Freedom for All or No Freedom at all”

  3. Much respect to Jack and his family.

    I hope Californians do the right thing on Nov. 2 and votes YES on Prop 19.

    I pray that there is enough sanity left on this planet so that this bill may pass.

    We’re all waiting…

  4. Rest in peace, Jack, and know that those of us who’ve read your book have had our eyes opened. We’ll carry on your dream, just like you did because it is ours now, too. I read Jack’s book not too long ago. Found it sitting on a shelf in books-a-million. I’d already been a supporter for the legalization of cannabis for a while, but that book showed me the real reasons it was illegal and so many more uses that I never knew about. If Jack’s family reads this, know that your father changed my life for the better. Adding hemp to my diet will enable me to live longer and get more out of life, which (I got the feel from his book) was what he wanted for people. Happier, better lives.

    Were I a Californian (which I plan to be in a couple of years after finishing college), I would vote yes on prop 19. For now, living in Florida, I do my best to find out as much as I can to convince my family and friends that marijuana does not deserve the stigma of “the devil weed.” It’s my hope that these small talks with potential voters will help make the change, because in the end, it’s the people who spur our government into action.

  5. We all need to spread this information. I have seen far too many arguments against prop 19 based on the premise that “Jack didn’t like it”. Let us all do our part and link to this page in any social networking groups, comments sections, political forums and similar websites. We are responsible for ensuring prop 19 passes.

  6. Too continue the policy we have now,even in CA’s mostly lax atmosphere just to wait on the perfect law would be unforgivable and destructive for the momentum our movement has gained from this issue.
    Medical marijuana is still only protected by a memo,people,and all it takes to remove that questionable protection is another memo.

    And the lax enforcement of marijuana laws you enjoy today can change with a new DA in office or a new Police Chief that wants more government blood money from the feds.

    Please help America to end this insanity,start the
    process by legalization with Prop 19 and other states will follow.

    We will take our right to use cannabis back away from our government. And we have to do it exactly as the state of CA is,by the people because there are just too many industries and government agencies against it for our legislators to act.

    If our elected representatives can ignore the fact of medical marijuana and keep it as a schedule one drug
    even with 80% of Americans supporting m/m legalization,
    there is no hope of them admitting they made a mistake 74 years ago and they will continue digging the hole until they are removed.

  7. Thank you Herer family for you message. I remember I was initially surprised reading how Jack Herer thought that taxation of a plant, a natural plant, was a slap in the face and that instead of taxation (a double injury) there should be apologies made for the certain officials’ unethical and deceitful behavior called prohibition.

    He was such an idealist and a man of principle and I fully agreed with him then and still do now.

    But in politics, which determines nothing more than “who gets what,” and regarding drug politics, the power has been severely lopsided in regard to the state and the people.

    Everything is taxed these days it seems anyway, so why not, our economy and America’s future needs help from us, not the bankers. The top priority is legalization.

    Let’s face it, it’s corruption and form of fascism for the DEA to exist at all, a rogue department of arbitrary authority headed by a little czar dictator. When they are so intellectually dishonest and unreasonable in the scheduling of Cannabis, every victory for the people, a win for the common good, really matters.

    Like California was the first to legalize medical marijuana and set the example for the 14-16+ states that followed, California will be a trailblazer again. And then other countries will follow California’s example too.

    Prop 19 will further the cause and open the door a little wider, till the floodgates open. Then corrupt government officials can no longer deny the truth no matter how many lies they’ve told people who trusted them.

    Rest in Peace, Jack Herer

  8. Many thanks to the Herer family for stepping forward so shortly after Jack’s passing, and to Russ for sharing this with us.

    I’ve heard many people reference Jack Herer’s objections to Prop 19 as a reason to vote “no”, so I’m extremely glad to see this letter. Being an incredibly smart, dedicated activist, Jack surely understood the importance of seizing opportunities for progress — even when that progress wouldn’t bring complete and total freedom. He understood that the abject tragedy of cannabis prohibition far outweighs whatever shortcomings may be inherent in Prop 19. Again, thanks so much to the Herer family for helping demonstrate the true importance and meaning of November’s historic opportunity.

  9. I love and care as JH, but it will NEVER happen. This is, and has always be, THE third rail issue that will never be passed. We are still perceived as losers. We are still fighting the racism involved and we don’t have enough money in our PAC to make it happen. Look at our world dudes and dudettes. The machine can’t do the right thing on any subject. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, or where you put your money. SAVE YOUR SEEDS, AND HIDE YOUR WEED.

  10. Rome was not built in a day. Prohibition won’t be dismantled all at once, either. Prop 19 is one more step toward the ultimate goal, returning to the country that the Founding Fathers created, a free country. Our first President, a marijuana farmer, would surely approve.

  11. This is a beautiful article and a welcome sign in our fight for freedom. Friends, this is really a fight between good and evil and we really can’t rest until we prevail. The SaveCalifornia people that back the NO campaign are spouting pure craziness:

    This is from there own website as reasons we need to end public schools:

    1. Homosexual-bisexual-transsexual indoctrination
    2. Pro-abortion indoctrination, “confidential” abortion referrals and off-campus “counseling”, without parental consent
    3. Condom/birth control pills indoctrination and distribution without parental consent; no teaching children how to truly avoid STDs; “abstinence-only” education prohibited
    4. Anti-God, pro-evolution indoctrination
    5. Political correctness
    6. Dumbed-down academics, less academic success, on average, than private or home school
    7. Negative socialization and peer pressure
    8. Less safety, on average, than private school
    9. Anti-Christian indoctrination and widespread rejection of religious and moral values
    10. Anti-parent sentiments

    This is frightening. Very frightening.

  12. With California’s huge medical marijuana opportunity, one might wonder why California has to be any more legal. And this may be the only thing that prevents this historic vote from passing.

    But what California has to realize, this vote has more to do with the rest of the states than it does its own. A victory in California this year could potential create of wave of other states following suit in the coming years.

    Voting for this measure is a VOTE TO FREE POT SMOKERS?PATIENTS EVERYWHERE!

  13. Clearly, Texas needs folks like Mr.Herer and family. We are certainly pleased to see Californians shaking loose the chains of laws based on lies. At the same time, California’s significant steps toward herbal freedom causes us Texans extra frustration. Texas is still mired in the garbage of Anslinger and company. Would that Houston’s NORML would rattle its chains MUCH louder. I want herb legal In My Lifetime. I’m going to be one grumpy old man if I still have to sneak about for herb when I’m in my Winter years. May BIG changes begin to take place!

    If the tobacco companies have anything to do with it – pass. They have a habit of putting addictive additives to their product. Let’s keep it non-addictive and non-toxic.

  15. If only more advocates for all positions would see that a compromise moving in the right direction is a victory, not a defeat. It’s a pity the Palestinians and gay marriage supporters don’t see it this way too, they’d both be most of the way to their goals if they did.
    Make your point as an idealist, make you policy as a pragmatist.

  16. @Pot Nero

    I understand your bitterness in waiting so long for freedom for cannabis users, but that attitude will not help anything. I don’t know if you have been paying attention, but based on the polls and general public perception, this is by FAR the closest we have ever come to our goal. So if you live in California, please have an optimistic attitude and go vote for proposition 19, and encourage your friends to do the same.

  17. fantastic, the amount of idiots out there opposing 19 is crazy, i had a few really really nasty exchanges with a few of them too…vote YES folks :p

  18. Sorry for your loss. Jack was right and it makes me mad that the very government that has caused so much pain to cannabis people would profit. More important as Mark has pointed out that this is not perfect, but it would be supportive better of politics for at least a little chance of a future. Thank you Mark for taking up the ball at a time when it is sorely needed. In a way Jack will have the last laugh. Love to all from a place where even Medical seems a dream. -david-

  19. “Save California”

    That name says it all. They essentially approve of the concept of a government body that interferes in our personal lives, telling us what we can and can’t do with OUR OWN BODIES in the privacy of our own homes.

    Nobody is asking them to save us from ourselves because we don’t need saving. Responsible adults, such as myself, who use marijuana aren’t asking for their help.

    I don’t need “saving.” I want to be left alone in freedom and in peace. I’m doing just fine without you, thank you very much.

  20. Anything short of freedom is slavery. But since our freedom was taken little bits and pieces at a time, that may be the way to get it back. What is most important is to never settle for slavery and never stop working for freedom; its more than worth the fight.

  21. Of course Jack Herer would support it! He was a great man! He would have made a better president than the last few we’ve had…

  22. I learned a lot from his book, and I encourage everyone to read it. It’s incredible to me that America’s fear of marijuana has prevented us from utilizing the incredibly reliable and cost-efficient hemp, despite its negligible THC content. Thank you, Jack.


  24. @nick adams

    Dude, take a look around. Let’s assume it does pass. It will immediately be challenged in court, and there is no way to make an argument for legalization to any judge because it has been illegal for so long. We can’t even get the right for same sex marriage. Follow the money. If we all stopped buying weed and donate our money to fight the fight, we may have a chance….but it won’t. Sorry. Californian’s go ahead vote…it will do no good. Pot is for losers right? We’re all just a bunch of hippies who use pot as a gateway.

  25. A great article; if we’re going to make it happen, we need to get people REGISTERED so they can VOTE.

    California voters can go online to register to vote:
    or to vote by mail

    There’s a similar opportunity in South Dakota; South Dakota citizens can go online to register to vote, and you can vote as an absentee if your a SD citizen who is currently out of state (e.g., a student):
    Other states: Google your state name and “voter registration.” It takes 5 minutes to change the world.

    College students can usually register as residents of the place they live while in college OR, if they are from elsewhere, they can register as a citzen of their “home town.” The choice is theirs, so college students, you might want to think about where to make your vote count the most.

    And as a side note: If you’re not already registered or if you’re just not sure, do it today. Most states have a deadline that’s a few weeks BEFORE the election, so don’t delay!

    (And also: If you didn’t vote in 2008, there is a good chance you are no longer registered; in some states you have to re-register if you miss an election or two, so make sure you’re registered, and if you have a chance to vote early (either by mail or in person at a polling place, jump on it!)

    Register. Vote. Change things. Share the links.

  26. I’m hoping this post will help stop this pointless tug-of-war over whether Herer would or wouldn’t have supported Proposition 19. We can show respect for the man and his legacy without being bound to follow his presumed wishes in the ballot box.

    Having read both Prop. 19 and the Herer initiative (have you?), it’s clear that Prop. 19 falls short of his ideal legalization scheme. But it’s equally clear that Prop. 19 is on the ballot and the Herer initiative isn’t, meaning debate should focus on what’s actually before us, not some idealized measure that may or may not emerge somewhere down the road. Personally, I don’t think the Herer initiative, as written, would have a snowball’s chance of passage, however popular it may be among the more outspoken members of the cannabis crowd.

    Prop. 19, on the other hand, is an incremental and achievable step toward a more humane cannabis policy in California. And while Herer’s views on the subject deserve respect and consideration, so do the views of so many others. Think about the human cost of cannabis prohibition, as Jack did tirelessly, and then make up your own mind in November. Not because you think it’s what Jack would want you to do, or not, but because you think it’s the right thing to do.

  27. I think Jack went on ahead to make SURE it’s going to pass!
    And he will keep right on working up there with us down here to make sure it’s legal for everyone every where once and for all!!

  28. “I don’t want to fucking give this united states government one fucking dollar of taxes…”

    “Pot is the safest thing you can do in the universe, and that’s what we fought to save in California.”

    — Jack Herer, “The Emperor of Hemp”, September 12th, 2009
    (Portland Hempstalk Festival–his final speech.)

    Now that we know what Jack DID SAY, this is what >I< believe he'd be telling us all to do for the future: PLAN FOR IT!

    In the event Prop 19 FAILS:

    Move forward and IMMEDIATELY begin plans to bring Jack's initiative to the table in 2012, MAKE SURE IT GETS ON THE BALLOT, and VOTE FOR IT.

    Anyone who's LISTENED to what Jack's said over the years knows that hie end goal is the only long-term solution to the problem: The FULL REPEAL of Cannabis/Hemp Prohibition.

    In the event Prop 19 passes:

    Same as above, but paying very close attention to any errors in Prop 19 which were known at the outset, and which have become apparrent over time.

    This includes Oakland's "Mega-grow Tax" that they call a "license"…for more than $200,000.00!!! This also includes (forgot the city)'s $600.00 PER SQUARE FOOT "cannabis grower's tax" on private grows in the provacy of your own home/backyard.

    Those are both exorbitant and unconstitutional measures that DIRECTLY attack medical users rights to have their medicine without paying a third party who did NOTHING to help them get it, grow it, cure it, or use it.

    Always remember, Jack's goal was FULL REPEAL of what he knew was one of, if not the worst crime ever perpetrated against the people of the world.

    All the arguments about "what he might have said" or "what he might have thought" if here were alive today mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

    Jack spelled out his plans, his goals, and his dreams long in advance…you have nothing more to do than to LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAID to know where he wants us to continue to work towards…and his initiative is the nexst step on that very path.

    [Paul Armentano responds: The Oakland ordinance re: commercial grow licensing is a totally separate issue from Prop. 19 — as evidence by the fact the City Council approved the ordinance months prior to Prop. 19 even being voted on.]

  29. Thank you to the Herer family, for this touching appeal. My heart goes out to you in your loss. Jack’s passing was, in fact, a deep loss for us all. Prop 19, when passed, will be a huge step toward regaining our national sanity, and Jack, with his intelligence, wit, compassion and understanding, would be very pleased…then he would get to work making the law even better.


    The war on drugs – is absolutely a war – with severe casualties [death] on both sides. Understandably – war is too full of horror for human beings. But – what about the casualties of war? What about these disabled veterans in this war – and – should we consider those arrests and/or incarcerations as P.O.W’s
    of that war? So! the war against cannabis is an atrosity – and the aggressors – well you apply whatever name to them you choose – but – don’t ever say that death is appropriate for smoking a joint – unless you’re absolutely nutz!

  31. Dear Dan and Family,

    I loved your dad and I am sorry for your loss. I remember reading that he opposed the proposed legislation. You say you think he would have changed his mind and since you were his family, I imagine you have more insight than I. I am worried about prop 19 because it does not prevent anyone from going to jail. All the same arrestable crimes will still be arrestable crimes, except the notable difference that you can grow a 5′ x 5 foot garden, but I am certain that the vast majority of people in jail for cultivation had bigger gardens. I’d be surprised if there is even one person in prison for a 5X5 garden. Prop 19 also notably protects 215 rights in regards to quantity but lacks any reference to the right to cultivate your medical need or the protection of collectives in regards to cultivation; it seems it would have been an easy thing to add for clarity and without it, it may not actually end up being protected. I really wonder if Jack would have considered the ability to buy and have up to an ounce from “licensed dispensaries” without the possibility of getting a ticket( from $10 in SF to a max of $100 ). Congreess is actually in the process of reducing the misdemeanor marijuana possession to an infraction, maybe by the end of the month. It seems like a small diffrence. The big difference is now many communities and individuals are able to supplement the downturn in the economy by growing Marijuana for the Medical industry. Prop 19 invites more legislation to restrict this economy as well as using taxes collected for “enforcement against unauthorized activities”(prop 19- Section 11302 A. The ‘unauthorized activities’ refers to all the same marijuana crimes which are jail-able offenses now ( they will be crimes after it passes too, although under prop 19, some of the punishments increase. I just can’t imagine him supporting that, but maybe I am wrong. Either way, Jack Herer is one of my all time heroes. He educated me about Marijauana and will always hold a special place in my heart. I’d love to know if you, his family knew the facts I talked about in this reply, do you still think He’d change his mind to support prop 19?

    [Editor’s note: It’s pretty simple…either you support cannabis law reform via vehicles like Prop 19, or you favor the status quo (In CA, 77,000 annual arrests, drug testing, civil forfeiture, removal of student loans and drivers licenses, denial of employment, etc…). Why muse about what a dead man would think when you can employ your own mind?]

  32. I cannot claim to have known Jack or to have even met him, I have seen some vids of him, read some of his writings, and own & love his book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. I grieve on his passing, and commiserate with his family and millions of his fans.

    He was an ardent supporter of all things cannabis, including all things hemp. While he may have railed against aspects of Prop 19, I feel confident that he would have supported any legal measure that would move cannabis closer to full re-legalization, including CA SB 1449 and Prop 19.

    Rest in peace, Jack.

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