The Emperor’s New Clothes should have been crafted from hemp all along and Americans are just now discovering it.
It was a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of June in Will Smith-popularized Bel Air, California where a two-day cannabis conference and expo was being held at a mansion. A level of investment not entirely atypical in Los Angeles, the world’s fastest growing cannabis market.
Cannabis gatherings of this magnitude require special logistics. After a veritable park-and-ride from somewhere near UCLA, I’d arrived at WeedCon West, where cannabis education, product sampling, and augmented multisensory experiences, all met in a lavish and expansive setting.
Larger cannabis companies like Sol Distro, Cresco Labs, Kushy Punch, and Marley Naturals were interwoven with smaller, and newer brands. Cannabis-derived “full spectrum protection”) suntan lotion manufacturer and sun care experts, Divios Naturals, small grows like Greenshock Farm and Stone Road Farms, and industry packaging experts, The Packaging Company, what seemed like 50 or so other cannabis companies and vendors.
(A special shout-out to my kinfolk, the team from Hawaii-based Pakalolo Seed Co. My 83 year-old, gardening-master dad’s going to sprout your seeds for us. Watch for an article later in the year.)
I navigated my way through them all, seeking a dose of opinion, a taste of product, and a sprinkling of wisdom.
I emerged from a bathroom break waving my hands feverishly (because, ironically, there were no towels in the mansion’s restroom), I made my way to an expansive pool replete with inflatable swans and ripples left by some guy who’d decided to disrobe and jump in.
Someone handed me what I call a “free-roll” pre-rolled joint: Ingredients? No details necessary.
A woman in a shimmery, yellow evening gown walked past me, followed by an Ignite model holding a plate with those cute, little egg rolls that seem like a good idea until you’ve had ten of them. Fearless, I made my to the kitchen for my own plate followed by some cannabis-infused edible desserts.
I explored the cleverly themed rooms to the discovery of Herer Group’s I was drawn to the cigar lounge-like, wood-clad lair partly out of curiosity, partly because they had comfortable looking chairs. The Herer Group team being the only other people wearing suits was inviting, as well.
Black suits, at that. And having recently dabbed outback with Dab Nation, this was no funeral. It was more the celebration of an industry legend, Jack Herer, and what he was trying to tell people about cannabis all along.
A convincing videographer, the allure of faux fur draped across a shoulder, and the generous goodie bag had me promptly seated to learn more. More about the predictions that predate where the American cannabis industry is today, a book into which they were scribed, and the man who wrote it.
Jack Herer, the man
Nicknamed the Hemperor, activist Jack Herer (1939 – 2010) left his mark on American subculture by resurfacing age-old cultures, studies, and assertions that cannabis for food, fiber, fuel, medicine, recreation, and other purposes can solve most of the world’s most consequential environmental, social and economic problems.
But Jack wasn’t always a cannabis advocate. As a conservative-leaning veteran most of his life, he wasn’t introduced to the plant until irresistible, love-smitten pressure led him to it in his 30’s (more on that later).
“When I went off to the army when I was 17 years old, I believed in America and the rights of freedom,” Jack Herer is quoted as saying. “But today I believe my government is lying to the American people and that my president, George Bush, is a criminal.”
A prison stint in the name of advocacy gave Jack Herer time to pen the first draft of a book revered within the cannabis industry and respected throughout the world: The Emperor Wears No Clothes.
The Emperor Wears No Clothes is a play on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, a story where swindling weavers who trick the king, granting him and invisible, “supernatural” garment that cannot be seen or touched by any person of illegitimate birth. Effectively convincing the king he was looking dapper when, in fact, he was naked.
In this version, Jack Herer effectively blows the king’s cover, revealing that cannabis prohibition is an injustice to the American people, brought about by nefarious policy making. Sinister political motives in the 1930’s demonized the plant in all its forms (marijuana and hemp) to preserve the interests of powerful politicians, oil tycoons, publishers, and status-quo conservatives.
Citing Henry Ford, “and other futuristic, organic, engineering geniuses” in the early 1900’s, the book shares published findings that biomass from corn stalks, cannabis, waste paper and the like could replace 90 percent of all fossil fuel used in the world today (coal, oil, natural gas, etc.).
“Government and oil and coal companies, etc., will insist that burning biomass fuels is no better than using up our fossil fuel reserves, as far as pollution goes; but this is patently untrue,” Jack Herer wrote. “Why? Because, unlike fossil fuels, biomass comes from living (not extinct) plants that continue to remove carbon dioxide pollution from our atmosphere as they grow, through photosynthesis. Furthermore, biomass fuels do not contain sulfur.”
Decades later, the book’s foreshadowing is coming to light.
This is a great, thorough, award-nominated, 25-minute video rendition of The Emperor Wears No Clothes delivered by people who know it well. And here’s a free online version of the book in its entirety, with rights released by his family.
The people & the company
The Herer Group is built upon the principles of both the man and the book, and consists of multiple vertically integrated cultivation, manufacturing and distribution companies licensed in the state of California. The Group manages Herer Distribution, Herer Manufacturing, and Herer Labs & Research.
Cannabis sourced from family-sized farms is tested with Herer Labs before being manufactured into award-winning (first-place win for its cannabis concentrate at the industry’s famed 2018 Emerald Cup) flower, pre-rolls, vape pens sold under the Dr. Delights, Infusio and The Original Jack Herer brand names. These craft products are then distributed by Herer Distribution to licensed cannabis dispensaries statewide.
As I sat with them on this particular day, The Group’s people appeared as elegant as the brand. And that’s what’s needed as California’s cannabis market becomes flooded with thousands of new products: Distinction.
The Group pays homage to cannabis industry pioneers in buying their crops and keeping their cash flow going. “If it wasn’t for those who are the true legacy of what it is that we’re all building our companies on, if it wasn’t for the small growers who put the love and intention into putting out a product that they could take care of their families at a time when it wasn’t legal and paid the ultimate price, I wouldn’t be able to do what I am today,” Dan Herer, Jack’s son and founder of the Jack Herer Foundation and Herer Group, told me when we sat together.
The company plans to further expand those industry partnerships next year. “I’m really looking forward to the end of this year and going into next year with these partnerships with small farms, with folks who have the love and intent that has given us all the power to do the things that we need to do,” Dan Herer said.
For cannabis businesses, keeping with the Hemperor’s quest for sustainable hemp adoption across the nation, and the liberation to enjoy, research, develop, and heal from the cannabis plant requires commitment. It means that whether you’re touching the plant or not, you still know there is a war against prohibition to be fought in the United States, and in some form, you’re contributing to the fight.
“What we have here in California and across the United States is just another level of prohibition—it’s not the end of prohibition because when they still create laws that are based on the fears and falses of prohibition,” Dan Herer believes. “When they use those to create the regulatory framework in which we’re building all of our businesses, it fractures the foundation, it will be bound to fail if we don’t correct it.”
The Jack Herer cannabis strain is a multi award-winning sativa-dominant hybrid created by Sensi Seeds to honor its namesake. Aromatic and cerebral, The Group’s flower takes form as The Original Jack Herer with premium buds from Herer Farms and an adherence to high quality standards.
“In the cannabis world, we try not to encourage blind attachment to brands, but rather products,” California delivery service provider Ganja Goddessdiscloses on its website. “However, the Original Jack Herer™ line of products is genuinely backed by both history and anecdotal support…break out the canvas, or pen pad – this strain will inspire the best part of your creative side without weighing down your limbs.”
“This is a brand that has more fans than customers now,” Herer Group partner, Latif Horst told me.
Some consumers use some Herer products to keep from being bummed out, and others to totally veg out. “I choose a strain like Jack Herer or Lemon Tree for rainy days when I need to be active, as they lift me up beyond the depression of clouds and precipitation,” said Twitter user @c0uchl0cked (who also provides what I’m wagering is deep expertise on effective use of downtime). “If I have nothing to do and can afford to waste a day, indica edibles help me enjoy some serious relaxation.”
That’s free testimonial website copy, right there.
And despite the incomplete sentence at the end, this is a rather descriptive tweet about the treatment applications and perceived benefits users have experienced with Herer products.
So what got this all started in the first place? What turned Jack Herer, this former Goldwater Republican into a cannabis imbiber and advocate?
According to Dan, it was a girlfriend who essentially said he dad needed to smoke weed, because he was too boring, otherwise.
Disclosure: I have no financial interest or positions in the aforementioned companies. This information is for educational purposes and does not constitute financial and/or legal advice. But Select CBD did hook me up with a great free vape pen. Follow me on Instagram and TwitterCheck out my website.
This story originally appeared on Forbes.
Andre Bourque (@SocialMktgFella) is a cannabis industry connector, brand advisor, contributing writer, and the Vice President of Business Development for Verdantis Advisors, a full-service cannabis consulting agency. Verdantis specializes in cannabis industry investments, mergers and acquisitions, funding, partnerships, marketing, and media. Andre is the managing director of the cannabis division of Miramar Brands, a legacy full-service licensing agency representing Elle Magazine, Target, Kohl’s, Spalding, and other leading brands. We work with cannabis brands to leverage powerful mainstream names in the production of new products, channels, and markets. Andre is also the managing director of North America for blockchain marketing agency ICO Launch Group. In addition to Forbes, Andre’s articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Benzinga, Yahoo Finance, Ebony, CIO Magazine, ComputerWorld, and Social Media Today. Andre has held technology marketing positions in the aerospace industry, at Sun Microsystems, Intel, Technorati, and several startups. Andre is a card-carrying member of Souplantation’s Club Veg.
Darlene Mea is a long-standing media personality in the world of alternative everything. Since the early 1980s she has been involved in television, radio, print and multi-media. She represents all things natural, sustainable and life-promoting and has dedicated her life to going beyond the status quo message of being told what’s good for us, to providing options for a more holistic lifestyle. Since discovering the world of Hemp in early 2015 she has been on a mission to inform everyone on how to become involved in this exciting natural product that continues to revolutionize the world of health, beauty and design.