I love Chris Conrad for his dedication to this cause, his always spot-on insight and his ability to see both sides of an argument and make sense on any number of valid topics. Below is a letter from him regarding Jack Herer and his evolving opinion. God Bless you, jack. Obviously you are missed greatly….
To go by the credo, “What would Jack do?” you must understand that Jack evolved and over time changed his positions on many things. He was against something until he was for it, but somehow he got credit for the very thing he had previously opposed. Here are just a few examples:
Jack told his first wife that if she ever brought marijuana into his house he would leave her and get a divorce. Now he’s characterized as the patron saint of marijuana activists.
Jack didn’t want to revise and publish the Emperor Wears No Clothes in 1990, he wanted to do a book about sex, language and religion. Now, the Emperor is called “the Bible of the hemp movement.”
Jack may have been a tax resistor, but this is the Cannabis movement not the anti-tax movement, and when we (I was co-author) wrote the original California Hemp Initiative in 1990, it provided for an excise tax. Jack insisted in 1990 that pot should be legal for people aged 18, but by 1994 we set it at 21.
Jack vehemently argued against forming the Hemp Industries Association. He likened it to the DEA and called us traitors for passing its bylaws. But he loved getting free hemp products from HIA member businesses and when we sued DEA and saved hemp foods, Jack was quite happy.
Initially Jack deeply hated Prop 215. He literally stumped up and down the state cursing out hemp activists who backed it. He screamed at us, called us traitors for working on medical use, and claimed that Dennnis Peron was secretly against legalization. When 215 was filed, Jack filed the California Hemp Initiative (CHI) on the 1996 ballot to block it. and changed the name to “California Hemp _and Health_ Initiative” so people signing it would think they had signed Prop 215, to mess with the signature count. When I called him on it, he said he was trying to keep Prop 215 off the ballot because, among other things, “people will stop working for legalization and we’ll be stuck with medical forever. No hemp, no legalization; that will be the end.” Later he circulated the CCU petitions for pay, then before the election came to support it completely. Now some people actually credit Jack for ‘passing Prop 215.’
Jack vociferously opposed Senate Bill 420, but he loved the dispensaries it allowed to open.
If the movement had done what Jack first said to do, we would not have made the major political gains of the last 20 years, because he espoused ‘all or nothing.’ Jack knew how to come around, but first he had to cuss everyone out. So of course he railed against TaxCannabis 2010. That was what Jack did.
The pattern is clear, though. Jack would never support the HIA, then he did. He would never support Prop 215, then he did. He opposed SB420, then he loved its results. He said he would never support Prop 19, but were it not for his heart attack, by now Jack would have come around to back it.
Jack would never, ever walk into a voting booth and vote to keep prohibition as it is.
He would see the writing on the wall once the Secretary of State said Prop 19 qualified for the ballot. He would have complained, he would demand that we pass CHI in 2012, but Jack would hold his nose and vote yes. The problem is thatJack Herer died before he came to support Prop 19, otherwise he would tell you so himself. Do we let his death mean the death of legal marijuana? I say no.
So let’s do what Jack really would have ended up doing, and give TaxCannabis unwavering support. We can later improve on Prop 19 — but not unless we pass it first. Support and vote “Yes on Prop 19.”
— Chris Conrad, editor and designer of the 1990 Emperor Wears No Clothes, friend of Jack Herer