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Jack Herer Dies, America Loses a Legend

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This has to be the saddest post I have ever authored. I was going to post it yesterday when I heard, but I was just too depressed to type. Writer and activist Jack Herer, author of the legendary book “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” died Thursday in Eugene, OR from complications from a September heart attack. He was 70. Anyone who calls themselves a ‘marijuana activist,’ or any variation thereof, lost one of the greatest men the world has ever known. “I never accepted that he was really going to go,” said Jack’s wife, Jeannie Herer. “I’m sad that it happened, but I’m glad that it happened in Eugene. Everyone has been wonderful to us here.”

As a Eugene resident, and someone who has idolized Jack Herer since I was a little kid, I can honestly say that I am crushed right now. To honor the greatest marijuana activist of all time, I am going to take a break from blogging until Sunday. Consider it an electronic moment of silence. Below is a great biography that was printed in an Oregon newspaper:

Born in New York City, Herer grew up in Buffalo, N.Y, the youngest of three children. He dropped out of high school and joined the Army, serving in Korea. After his hitch, he picked up work as a sign painter. In the early 1960s, he moved his wife and family to Los Angeles. A short time later, he divorced but stayed close with his children. He married and divorced twice more before marrying Jeannie Hawkins in 2000. Herer came to marijuana relatively late in life, smoking his first joint at 30. He chucked the sign business and opened a head shop on Venice Beach, then made a lifelong friend in “Capt.” Ed Adair, another head shop owner and a longtime marijuana advocate in Los Angeles.

In 1973, the men pledged to campaign until marijuana was legal, everyone imprisoned for possession was freed or they turned 84. Adair died in 1991 and Herer fought on. Herer was arrested in 1981 for trespassing on federal property while collecting signatures for a California ballot initiative. He served 14 days in prison and started writing, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” After his release, Herer moved to Portland to open a head shop called The Third Eye, now a fixture on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard. He completed the book in Portland, got it printed on hemp paper and began his years-long travels across the country.

In 2000, at a hemp festival near Eugene, Herer suffered a stroke and endured a long, agonizing recovery. He had improved in recent years and resumed his speaking schedule. He attributed his better health to daily use of a highly concentrated marijuana oil. He resumed his heavy travel schedule, which included a Sept. 12 speech at Portland’s Hempstalk at Kelley Point Park. He delivered a tub-thumbing speech, walked offstage and fell over from a heart attack. He survived and eventually his wife rented a house in Eugene, where she cared for him until his death. Herer is survived by his wife, six children, a brother and a sister. Funeral arrangements are not completed.

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Johnny Green

5 Comments

  1. So sad, Jack was a true leader in the movement for reform. The california head shop scene also owes Jack a great tribute.

    You can help support jacks family by patronizing “The Third Eye” head shop in portland OR.

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