Strain review: Jack Herer 

click to enlarge Jack Herer lacks a really strong taste or smell, and gives a narrow high. - BRANDON SODERBERG
  • Brandon Soderberg
  • Jack Herer lacks a really strong taste or smell, and gives a narrow high.
Cannabis activist Jack Herer brought some much-needed iconoclastic hucksterism to the usually po-faced world of weed advocacy and he did it for nearly 40 years, most popularly and cohesively in the 1985 book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes. It’s been consistently in print and oft-updated in years since, and something of a game-changer in terms of focus: hemp, its infinite uses and its knotty, often-ignored or conveniently forgotten history dating back to 1000 A.D., with special attention paid to how much our beloved Founding Fathers talked it up.

There’s something special about the way The Emperor Wears No Clothes mixes spirited argument, ‘70s head-shop magazine silliness and multiple-entry-points fun. Imagine Be Here Now meets Spy on weeeeeed (or on more weeeeeed) basically, where form met content and resulted in a crazy, discursive, anti-respectable though also academically researched tome, man. So this strain, which itself goes back almost 30 years, takes its name from him. Jack Herer is pretty popular, especially among medicinal smokers, and I’m surprised we’ve not gotten to it already, which means reviewing it here is a bit like reviewing an album reissued, or celebrating some anniversary — a way, if this is like most “return to a classic” writing, to reimagine why it’s great, or knock a classic down a few pegs.
These days, Jack Herer is often best positioned as a supporting player in a larger cast of strains making up hybrids, especially in Black Jack and XJ-13, where its ability to be both very strong and rather subtle, reasonable yet rueful, helps those highs immensely, without interfering with them much. Mostly because Herer lacks a really strong taste or smell — just a bunt of spice and that’s it. Most of its flavor goes away when you light up and all you have is a tingle of flavor, and then just the burn of butane in your throat. It doesn’t cook well, leaving a wafer mouthfeel, delicious enough air is all that’s left.

Plus, it’s a narrow high, changing a little all of the time with pain relief coming in the form of a shooting calm touched by a dancing in your bones, and you’ll get really relaxed but engaged, when you’re up for it. Then there’s the sense that there are a thousand thoughts in your head and 30,000 ways to connect them, and your cells vibrate. Whole entire moods dart around, take over then disappear, and you’re right on the edge of something, anything, everything. A bit like Herer himself often seemed, especially in a 1991 interview on the show Time 4 Hemp currently uploaded to YouTube where Herer tells the host — who has a mullet and a Tex Mex-style shirt — about how “birds live 10- to 20-percent longer if they have hemp seed in their diet, whether they’re birds in the wild or birds in a cage!”

Strength: 8
Nose: The now-empty box you used to transport all the spices on your spice rack during a move
Euphoria: 8
Existential dread: 3
Freaking out when a crazy person approaches you: 3
Drink pairing: Sorrel Drink
Music pairing: Joe Walsh, So What or Neil Young, On the Beach (depending on how seriously you take yourself)
Rating: 8


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