This story is about erecting a statue of Jack Herer in the Portland, Oregon Park where he ‘died’ after a last fiery speech for cannabis legalization.
Statues in the park are for heroes; heroes of the people, for the people. Jack Herer was both.
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.
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,” a book idea he talked into development with buds at the Mystic Arts Shop in Laguna Beach.
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, RSO.
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. This was 2009, a month and a half approximately before the formation of the 420nurses the following Halloween in Hollywood.
Though Herer physically died at a rented house in Eugene almost a year later, the Jack that everyone knew, the Jack that preached the merits of Mary Jane Green, a Christian last name he blessed when I saw him in August, 2009; that Jack ‘died’ on that September day in Kelley Point Park, Portland, OR.
Now one of Jack’s sons, Dan, is trying to get a statue of Jack Herer placed in the park he collapsed in. As the Father of the modern legalization/decriminalization effort that will start bringing added revenue into city and state coffers very soon, we feel a statue in the city where he also finished his landmark work, ‘Emperor’ is very apropos in recognition due this modern day Galen.
As an organization that supports Jack Herer and CCHI, the petition for this starts at the NEWS for 420nurses, their fans, business vendors, and photographers because if we didn’t know Jack, we wouldn’t know Mary Jane very well. Go here to sign. Thank you.
(Anne Saker contributed to this story)