In Praise of The Hemperor  

In Praise of The Hemperor  
Posted by FoM on April 06, 2001 at 11:18:36 PT
Film Review By Steve Robles
Source: San Francisco Bay Guardian 
Wanna know how important cannabis crusader Jack Herer is to the pro-marijuana movement? There's actually a strain of pot which bears his name. Forget the NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) plaques, the High Times accolades, the international notoriety - if you're in the decriminalization movement, there is simply no greater honor than to have some kid in Arcata selling pot and referring to it in your name. 
You may not have ever heard of Herer (rhymes with terror), but in underground culture, this bearded old man is an icon. Beginning with the comic zine Grass, which he published in the '70s, on through to his classic 1985 anti-drug war epic The Emperor Wears No Clothes, Herer has transformed himself from a flag-waving veteran who supported the Vietnam War to the single most important voice in the fight to decriminalize marijuana and its non-intoxicating twin, hemp. In the documentary Emperor of Hemp, director Jeff Jones seeks to illustrate Herer's journey from Goldwater Republican to decrim activist. And while Jones makes a good case for his stature in the pro-marijuana community, this film is the equivalent of the glossy job Moonlighting's production crew used to do on the aging Cybill Shepherd. What, for instance, ever became of the family the straight Jack had before he freaked out smoking dope to CSN&Y or whatever? Still, for those uninitiated to the movement or sketchy on details of Herer's early days (when NORML's leaders would refuse his calls and generally thought of his hemp angle as flakey at best, dangerous at worst), the film provides a decent, if somewhat sycophantic, framework. Where it excels is in the moments where it gets under the surface of Herer's experiences as an activist. For instance, the film explains how Herer's 1983 stint at Terminal Island (a federal prison generally reserved for non-violent offenders - John Delorean served his cocaine sentence there) led to his working on the long-conceived Emperor. If he hadn't spent the time he did there, he ikely would have never had the time and focus to put into such a project. The irony that the government, through his incarceration, helped bring about the most popular pro-decrim book in the history of modern prohibition is thick, indeed. Equally fascinating is Jones' exploration of the controversy behind one of Herer's favorite weapons, a wartime Department of Agriculture film called Victory With Hemp, which implores farmers to apply for the usually unobtainable license to grow hemp. Herer would screen the film with glee at personal appearances, taking delight in the 14-minute newsreel that showed the government's ease in backing off the vilification of hemp it had advanced less than a decade before, desperate to take advantage of the plant George Washington urged to seed in every nook and cranny of America. You see, as Herer has always maintained, hemp makes a rather handy fiber (as well as having myriad other uses), as has been known for thousands of years. (The U.S. is the only democratic nation to prevents its farmers from growing hemp. If the case been made abudantly clear to you already, Barry McCaffrey is a fascist, and, like all fascists, bombastically moronic.) Well, someone from inside the government "warned" Herer that the newsreel was, in fact, a hoax. And once you see the bits of it shown in Emperor of Hemp, you notice that it is so perfect in its hypocrisy (and that classic government propoganda newsreel voiceover intoning, "Victory With Hemp!") that it could very well have been a fake. Luckily for Herer, some research at the Library of Congress unearthed proof that it had, indeed, been filmed by the Deparment of Agriculture. The excerpts shown in this documentary are priceless. Spicing up the film are musical contributions by Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh ('natch!) and Cheap Trick - these tracks lend a weight to Emperor of Hemp that would be lacking if it relied on the usual "hippie-esque" scores many documentaries use when addressing matters generally deemed "hippie-esque" in nature. And while the film sometimes plays as pure PR for Herer, at least it doesn't patronize the assumedly, pro-decrim audience. I guess media coverage of the pro-marijuana movement is usually so bad that that's about as much as one can ask for. Emperor of Hemp airs on Saturday, April 7, 11 pm on KCSM Ch. 60 Source: San Francisco Bay Guardian (CA) Author: Steve Robles Published: April 6, 2001Copyright: 2001 San Francisco Bay Guardian Contact: letters Website: NORML: Herer: of Hemp: of Hemp Examines the Benefits of the Plant:
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Comment #6 posted by Chris on April 09, 2001 at 13:09:46 PT:
Message to the world
Just donīt agree in talking much !The only thing i want to say is LEGALIZE IT!!
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Comment #5 posted by freedom fighter on April 06, 2001 at 21:27:52 PT
I have read his book several time and I seem never could get enough of his book. Jack is a man ahead of his time..ff
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Comment #4 posted by ras james rsifwh on April 06, 2001 at 14:44:25 PT
butt naked 
Ras Jack! thank you for exposing the lies and hypocracy of the politicians of these here united states of America. Until the weed is free, there can never be anyone who can trust anything an american politicians ever says. If the Chinese Governments says the United States Military flew into thier air space illegally, how can you blieve republican george bush's version? especially after the Rpublican Party took an $8,000,000.00 bribe this year from the tobacco 1,000,000 teens became addicted to tobacco this year and 365,000 of those teens will die horrible early deaths because of their tobacco addiction...nothing but silence from the Grand Old Party...and a marijuana smoke screen.jack herer is a great american hero. thank you senor jack.give all praise and thanks to Jah Rastafari.
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Comment #3 posted by J.R. Bob Dobbs on April 06, 2001 at 13:50:08 PT
Right on, Jack!
  Jack was the first person to totally explain the uses and effects of the cannabis plant to satisfy me. I'd read a lot of stories about various psychedelic experiences, but I still had no idea of the truth about cannabis - its effects, its uses, that sort of thing. Without Jack, I'd be a different person today.>>if you're in the decriminalization movement, there is simply no greater honor than to have some kid in Arcata selling pot and referring to it in your name.  I can think of a higher honor. Having a coffeeshop in Washington D.C. selling cannabis which bears your name - legally!! Of course, if you could do that in the first place, there would be no reform movement, and few if any of us would know his name...  Thanks a million, Jack! From all of us! Keep up the good fight until the war is over - we will too!!
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on April 06, 2001 at 12:40:13 PT
The Emperor of Hemp
I love Jack Herer. I have watched The Emperor of Hemp so many time I think I must have it memorized. Jack signed The Emperor Wears No Clothes for me at last years Hempfest in Santa Cruz. A friend of mine went and bought " things " for me and sent them to me. Jack Herer told me to keep working here at Cannabis News until the laws are changed. That sure inspired me. I wish him and his wife all the best.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on April 06, 2001 at 12:27:31 PT
For me, my pro cannabis activism may have all started w/Jack Herer's book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes.Thank you Jack. You ARE an inspiration to many of us.
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