Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the passing of my friend, mentor and hero, Jack Herer. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my lucky stars for having known him. Jack’s book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes is responsible for the recruitment of many activists, such as myself. It’s amazing how many people were directly affected by this larger than life man. Jack had a special energy of love and hope. He was a big bear of a man that loved people and loved his mission in a way that made you happy to jump on his band wagon. The first time I reached out to Jack, I had such reverence for him that the fact that he would even respond to me made made him remarkable in my book. As I got to know Jack, I learned that he was so grateful to have people spread his message, that he welcomed everyone with big, open arms.
The first time I met Jack in person was as his guest at a High Times Film Festival event in Marina Del Rey. I got there early, with butterflies in my stomach, waiting for this man who I figured wouldn’t give me the time of day but would probably be courteous enough to be polite. I shared with a few other people who were standing around how nervous I was to meet Jack. They kind of chuckled at me and reassured me that Jack was easy going.
Jack Herer finally arrived. I noticed that he was pretty tall and had eyes that sparkled. I went up him and introduced myself and when I did, the weirdest thing happened. I looked into his eyes and felt this strong sense of familiarity. I remarked to him immediately, “I feel like I’ve known you my whole life.” He responded with an amazed look on his face, “me too.” From that point on, we were friends and Jack made it his personal mission to make sure that I met anyone he thought was important for me to meet as a new activist. I felt so comfortable with him and felt like we were destined to be in each other’s lives. This is when I knew I found my calling. I was home.
Jack involved me in many of his projects but I believe the Seattle Hempfest was his favorite. He regaled me with stories of the Hempfest and was eager for me to share the experience with him. At that point in time, things were not comfortable with my business partner and I didn’t think she would understand my taking off to the Seattle Hempfest with Jack. Jack asked over and over again, if I would come to Seattle with him. I was torn between pissing off my partner or disappointing Jack. I kept saying to him, “I’ll join you next year, I promise.” But Jack wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
I ended up going to the 2010 Seattle Hempfest and let me tell you, it was AMAZING! Going to the Hempfest for the first time with Jack Herer is like walking through the Red Sea with Moses. He was the “reason for the season” and watching everyone pay homage to him was awesome. I had the time of my life watching him in action, signing books and talking, talking, talking. While I ended up coming down with an awful cold and being sick as a dog at the event, I can honestly say, I had the time of my life. I flew back home to L.A., exhausted and sick, but feeling so glad I didn’t miss it.
About a month later, Jack called me on the way to Portland’s Hempstalk and said he wished I could have come to that festival as well. I told him that I had a blast at the Seattle Hempfest and I looked forward to being at many more festivals with him. As we said our good-byes, he said “I love you.” I told him, “I love you back.” That was the last time we spoke. Jack Herer gave his last speech at the Portland Hempstalk where he suffered a massive heart attack. He was unconscious for about seven months and then passed away, April 15th, 2010. I was devastated.
In the short time I knew Jack Herer, I learned so much about hemp and activism. But what I really learned is that you cannot take tomorrow for granted. I really thought I had another year to get my act together to be good enough to hang with Jack. He, however, pushed me to dive in. Looking back, Jack treated me like learning everything he knew was urgent. What I learned is this: It was urgent!
The hemp movement is not the same without Jack Herer. It feels like the family is disjointed without it’s famous patriarch. Jack knew that I was passionate about honoring him with the most amazing hemp clothing line in the world and he treated me like he knew I would succeed. The fact that Jack had confidence in me, touched my heart. While I certainly have not had a shortage of challenges with my business, the fact that I promised Jack I would get it done, drives me every single day.
Often times, I’ll put on Jack’s documentary, The Emperor of Hemp, just to hear his voice. Those who know me well know that I love documentaries. This documentary, however, is extra special to me.
Check it out when you get a chance:
Even though my heart was broken when Jack Herer passed away, I am ever so grateful for the strong bond we created. I love you and miss you with all my heart, Jack Herer. I intend to make you very proud!