One of the most prominent figures in the legalization community died today, 70 year-old Oregon resident Jack Herer, author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes and lifelong cannabis activist.
California NORML reports and Salem-News.com confirms Herer passed away this morning, after months of serious health complications from a massive heart attack in late 2009.
California NORML's Dale Geiringer said Herer was an idealistic, hard-headed pioneer with a voice louder than any P.A. system.
"Jack's big contribution was to raise awareness of hemp and the importance of hemp in American agriculture and industry before the mid 20th century. I saw an immediate impact when his book came out around 1990. I had just gotten involved in the marijuana movement and it was the height of the war on drugs. People would just avoid you like the plague. Then when Jack had his book come out, hemp suddenly became an environmental issue."
Herer's work in The Emperor Has No Clothes became canon to the new generation of activists. However, his later attempts to change various states' laws through the initiative process met with failure. He tried for years to get hemp initiatives on the different ballots, but they proved too radical for the time.
"He kept staying with his initiative and it always had problems. He was asking for a little bit more than the moon," says Gieringer. "It's ironic because he died the year full-scale legalization — I should say half-scale legalization is on the ballot. My recollection is Jack wasn't particularly enthusiastic about it."
According to Herer, The Emperor Wears No Clothes has sold 600,000 copies. Herer also had a strain of potent cannabis named after, called Jack Herer.
April 15, 2010
East Bay Express
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'Hemperor' Jack Herer Passes Away at 70