When asked what it was that turned them onto hemp in the first place, 9 out of ten people we interview say they read the book ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes’. Written and published by Jack Herer in 1985, it has been described as the Bible of Hemp. Jack tirelessly campaigned for the decriminalisation of Cannabis for many years until his death in April 2010.
Hemp Industry Insider recently caught up with Jack’s wife, Jeannie to find out what it was that made Jack an inspiration to so many people and how she is continuing the work Jack began.
In the mid ‘90s, I was working as a legal secretary in Phoenix, Arizona. I was also involved in the theatre. My acting agent and her husband started a local marijuana reform group and part of the deal of joining was that you either got a free t-shirt or a copy of Jack’s book. My agent told me to get the book.
I read the book and it completely changed everything for me. I was shocked and angry that I had been lied to for so long and I became a Cannabis activist. I carried the book around and I told everybody about it.
Then a couple of years later I was moving to California and a friend mentioned that I should join Jack’s group, H.E.M.P. (Help End Marijuana Prohibition). I met Jack and we just hit it off right off the bat. He was the most amazing and interesting person I had ever met. He was knowledgeable about so many things and he opened up my mind completely to a lot of things that I had never even thought about before.
I was a drinker and had gone to Alcoholics Anonymous for 13 years. I had just basically given up that I would ever get off the alcohol but Jack helped me quit, which was a miracle because I didn’t think it was possible. A.A. discourages pot smoking but it turned out to be the cure for me.
Before we met Jack had written this little coloring book called ‘G.R.A.S.S.’ He started to get famous just from that and kids would come up to him and tell him little facts they had learned which inspired him to start collecting more facts about Cannabis. Then he met Dr. Michael Aldrich, who taught him a whole lot more. Jack put all of those pieces together and wrote his book, ‘The Emperor Wears No Clothes’ when he was sent to prison for two weeks for registering voters after dark on federal property. The documentary ‘The Emperor of Hemp’, tells a lot about that time.
Jack had so much tenacity for the hemp cause; he never gave up, he gave his all to it, all of the time, everyday. He would never say no to anybody and never say no to any event. Basically, if he could get there, he would. Jack had such an aura about him. You knew that if he started talking about something, it would be very interesting and you could learn a lot. He was sweet too, even if he did seem to be a bit grumpy. His bark was definitely worse than his bite. He was a big teddy bear.
Jack had been working on an initiative which is listed on the website – it’s pretty much been the same since the 70’s. Jack believed that we shouldn’t split Cannabis into medical marijuana or industrial hemp – It’s all the same regardless of whether we use it for industrial, medicinal, nutritional, religious, spiritual or recreational use. He was very courageous and honest in that way.
He very much wanted to free the people who are incarcerated for non-violent pot crimes. He felt like pot dealers are heroes, not criminals. Our friend, Eddy Lepp, is in prison right now for growing cannabis for his wife, Linda, who passed away from cancer. He is a Vietnam Veteran.
Since Jack passed away I’ve been continuing with the Jack Herer website (www.jackherer.com/) because I believe it’s important to find the positive stories about Cannabis and put them out there.
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