The first time I was offered a strain called “Jack Hair Air,” I thought that was the weirdest name I’d ever heard for weed. Turns out not only is Jack Herer one of the most famous strains of all time, but its namesake is also one of the most important figures in the history of the cannabis legalization movement.
That first time I got to try some Jack Herer bud was a long time before any states had legalized and even longer before I would learn that different strains could produce different effects or affect people in different ways. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to several legal markets and try loads of different strains, many of which, like Jack the Ripper or Critical Jack, are crosses that share the original Jack as part of their lineage.
Bred originally in the Netherlands in the mid-90s by Sensi Seeds, the strain Jack Herer is classic Haze crossed with Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk. As with all cannabis strains, different phenotypes and environments will create variations in cannabinoid and terpene profiles, but what we typically see in test results of Jack Herer samples are max THC percentages in the high teens and usually somewhere around 1% CBG with a little bit of CBD and CBC in the mix as well.
As far as terpenes go, the highest concentrations will usually be either terpinolene or beta-myrcene, but alpha and beta pinene, caryophyllene, limonene, and nerolidol are almost always present while linalool and ocimene are very common as well. These terpene profile trends we see in the samples we’ve tested support most descriptions of Jack Herer flower having a pungent earthy and herbal scent with some spice and citrus aromas mixed in as well.
Because no endocannabinoid system is the same, each person will likely have a unique experience with any given strain, but many patients and consumers report Jack Herer offering relaxation while still leaving them clear headed and not couch locked. Some people say it’s energizing or aids creativity. Personally, while I wouldn’t say it energizes me, I’ve always enjoyed the relaxing sensation I get from Jack Herer that doesn’t overwhelm and allows me to enjoy a hike or another activity. It just clears away some of those anxious thoughts and allows me to focus on what’s good in the moment.
Because it’s a favorite of mine, I’ll often pick up a slice of Jack Herer when I see it on a menu, and I’m always reminded that legally purchasing some Jack Herer bud would not be possible without Jack Herer the man. Plus, his work continues to inspire and even has important implications for issues like climate change.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the documentary Emperor of Hemp chronicles how Herer, a middle class conservative who served in the army and supported the Vietnam war, was transformed by what he came to learn about cannabis. The knowledge he gathered from friends and from digging into the history of hemp led him to become one of the most outspoken activists in the legalization movement. All of this took place at the height of the war on drugs when the government was asserting that cannabis had no medicinal value, but what Herer was finding in historical documents was that cannabis had been used medicinally for centuries including here in America.
The research he was doing on hemp would eventually culminate with the publication of his book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, which you can read for free at JackHerer.com. The book uses historical evidence to point out the many benefits that cannabis and hemp could provide. Not only from its potential medical applications, but using it for textiles, fuel, or even building materials could have massive impacts on pollution and the environment.
Herer’s work brought these ideas to light in the 1980s, and it remains important today in the context of climate change, criminal justice, and economic recovery. Now more than 10 years after his death, the flower that bears his name can be legally purchased or grown in as many as 10 states and counting. Not to mention that the hemp industry is now a multibillion dollar industry.
It seems fitting that a man who dedicated his life to legalizing hemp to save the world is celebrated and honored with a strain all his own that uplifts and energizes cannabis users around the world.