Who Was Jack Herer?

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The Emperor Wears No Clothes is a 1985 book widely considered to be the spark that ignited the modern cannabis legalization movement. For the uninitiated, it was written by one of America’s modern champions of cannabis: Jack Herer. 

Jack Herer was born in New York in 1939. A personal hero of many a West Coast weed connoisseur, Jack fought for the rights of individuals to enjoy the benefits of cannabis legally. Traveling across the country, he worked to dispel myths and inaccuracies surrounding cannabis. In particular, he scrutinized the overreach of the US government, which had demonized weed for much of the twentieth century. He traveled the country and inspired like minded people, with the message that they should be free to use cannabis as they saw fit.

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Jack Herer’s Fight for Legalization

Jack Herer began his career in the sunny streets of Venice Beach, CA. A glass aficionado, he set up a head shop in the area and met his lifelong friend and fellow head shop owner, “Captain” Ed Adair. He would go on to take advice from Adair, writing a book containing useful tidbits of information about the myriad uses of the cannabis plant. In The Emperor Wears no Clothes, Herer argued that hemp is a natural product that has been used for thousands of years. As many readers will be aware, this is backed by historical evidence.

Cannabis in the Ancient World

  • Ancient Europe: Evidence found in what is now Romania suggests the use of cannabis in the area over 5000 years ago. Δ6-THC was found in ashes samples from the site. (1) 
  • Ancient China: In the early 2000s, the body of a man thought to be a shaman was discovered in a 2700 year old grave. On his person, archaeologists discovered 800 g (28.2 oz) of cultivated cannabis with a high delta 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content.(2)
  • Caucasus: In 440 B.C.E., the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of the “heated rocks” used by the Scythians; a nomadic tribe that controlled vast swaths of land from Siberia to Eastern Europe. These rocks created hemp vapors that made the nomads “shout for joy.”(3)
  • Ancient Africa: The medicinal use of cannabis is recorded in the Egyptian Ebers papyrus, dated to 1600 BC.(4)

Jack relocated to the Pacific Northwest in 1981 and set up as the owner of one of Portland’s most iconic head shops; Third Eye Shoppe. He took pride in his business and became a well known member of Portland’s counterculture scene. Remaining in Oregon for the rest of his life, Herer continued to blaze a trail as an entrepreneur, activist, and outspoken advocate for users of the world’s most useful herb

Opening The Third Eye

“Keep Portland Weird” is a well-known phrase in the Pacific Northwest, and Herer was very much aligned with the city’s offbeat image and quirky idiosyncrasies. Described by The Oregonian as “a reliable source for rolling papers, pipes, Jerry Garcia posters, tie-dyed T-shirts, bongs and incense,” (5) the Third Eye was a magnet for the city’s weed lovers and for the tourists that traveled to the area. Its striking psychedelic-inspired building murals welcomed weed lovers from far and wide. The shop floor at Third Eye was even “watched over” by two portraits; one of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, and the other of Jack himself. (5)

Third Eye Shoppe

  • Founded by Jack Herer in 1987
  • Motto: “We Smoke The Competition”
  • Described as a “hippie department store”
  • Provided health insurance for all employees
  • Taken over by Mark, Jack’s son, in 2001
  • Reported losses due to local and online competition 
  • Closed in 2017

Sadly, financial difficulties prompted the permanent closure of the iconicThird Eye Shoppe thirty years after its opening. As well as being a place to pick up all the necessary ingredients for a relaxing smoke session, Third Eye was a symbol of the cannabis legalization movement, and a lasting symbol of Portland’s individualistic character.

Find the best California certified cannabis products online at Medallion Wellness! Shop our menus according to your location here.

Jack Herer: The Father of Cannabis Activism

Jack Herer was a man of convictions who even ran for president…twice! But he’s perhaps most famous for his book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Through this detailed work, Herer compiled a record of the long and rich history of cannabis and its subsequent vilification by lawmakers in modern-day America. Chapter topics include:

  • Brief Summary of the Uses of Hemp
  • Cannabis Drug Use in 19th Century America
  • Marijuana Prohibition
  • Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis
  • Medical Literature on Cannabis Medicine
  • Prejudice: Marijuana and Jim Crow Laws
  • More Than Sixty Years of Suppression

Reefer Racism

In one chapter of the book, Herer highlights the link between cannabis regulation and racism. He notes the actions of numerous early twentieth century public safety commissioners who struck fear into the hearts of the general public with rhetoric rooted in racism and fear mongering. These authorities frequently noted “marijuana’s insidious evil influence” on society. Black Americans and other marginalized groups were frequently used as scapegoats, and the rambunctious jazz movement that was developing in New Orleans at the time was heavily criticized for promoting “evil” music. (6) 

Find the best California certified cannabis products online at Medallion Wellness! Shop our menus according to your location here.

Saying Goodbye to The “Emperor of Hemp”

Throughout his life, Herer used his platform to speak out about federal and state laws that restricted cannabis use. He was vocal in his support for hemp and its practical uses, and his advocacy for the right to smoke weed gained him wide acclaim and recognition in the United States and overseas. He had an incredibly busy speaking career, traveling to cannabis competitions, hemp festivals and protest events around the country to highlight the need for lawmakers to take weed legalization seriously.

Unfortunately, the strain of his intense event schedule took its toll on Herer’s health. This led to him suffering a stroke at a Eugene, Oregon festival in 2000. After many months, he recuperated; owing his recovery to his liberal use of concentrates. He got back into his speaking appearances and continued to advocate for cannabis countrywide for the next decade. However, tragically, shortly after his appearance on stage at a Portland rally, Jack Herer suffered a fatal heart attack. He was 70. Survived by his wife Jeannie and his son Mark, Jack remains a respected and revered figure in cannabis culture.

Jack Herer’s Legacy

Jack was inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame at the 16th Cannabis Cup before his death in 2003. The legacy of Jack Herer also endures with his namesake weed strain; a sativa-leaning hybrid known for its creativity-inspiring, energizing profile. If you’re looking for it at the dispensary, it goes by several names, including “Premium Jack,” “JH,” and simply “The Jack.”

Premium Jack Facts

  • Created in the Netherlands in the 1990s
  • Parent strains: Northern Lights #5 and Haze
  • Can increase focus, alleviate stress
  • Flavor profile: piney, woody, spicy
  • Dominant terpenes: terpinolene, caryophyllene, pinene

Premium Jack at Medallion Wellness

Medallion Wellness offers several Premium Jack products, including:

  • Stiiizy Premium Jack 1g Cartridge
  • Stiiizy Premium Jack Disposable Vape Pen
  • Nug Premium Jack Infused Pre Roll
  • Nug Premium Jack 6 Pack Pre-Rolls

Find these items and more by browsing our huge online menu! And don’t forget to read our blog like and follow the Medallion Wellness crew on Instagram!

Weed Delivery in Central California

Contact Medallion Wellness for speedy weed delivery to Atwater, Modesto, Merced, Fresno, Waterford and t. Our budtenders are just a call away if you have questions! Contact us for general inquiries at (888) 354-0139, call (209) 222-3110 for Modesto delivery, and (559) 785-3559 for our Atwater location.


  1. Zlas, J., Stark, H., Seligman, J., Levy, R., Werker, E., Breuer, A., & Mechoulam, R. (1993). Early medical use of cannabis. Nature, 363(6426), 215–215. https://doi.org/10.1038/363215a0 
  2. Crocq, M.-A. (2020). History of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system. Cannabinoids, 22(3), 223–228. https://doi.org/10.31887/dcns.2020.22.3/mcrocq 
  3. Lawler, A. (2019). Oldest evidence of marijuana use discovered in 2500-year-old cemetery in peaks of western China. Science. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aay3693 
  4. Zlas, J., Stark, H., Seligman, J., Levy, R., Werker, E., Breuer, A., & Mechoulam, R. (1993). Early medical use of cannabis. Nature, 363(6426), 215–215. https://doi.org/10.1038/363215a0 
  5. Oregonian/OregonLive, N. C. | T. (2017, March 22). The Third Eye, one of Portland’s oldest head shops, to close. Oregonlive. https://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/2017/03/the_third_eye_one_of_portlands.html
  6. Jack, H. (2009). The Emperor Wears No Clothes. Chest, 135(5), 1402. https://doi.org/10.1378/chest.08-2705 (Republished as a PDF by Daneil R. Ouelette) 
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