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High Times Greats: Jack Herer

Save the seed, save the planet.

High Times Greats: Jack Herer
Jack Herer by Steven Hager

Happy birthday to the emperor of hemp, Jack Herer (1939-2010). What follows is the republication of an April, 1990 excerpt from a updated and revised edition of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, written by Jack Herer. This landmark book, originally published in 1985, contains interesting material about the uses of the hemp plant, and the real reasons why hemp was made illegal.


The industrial revolution moved hemp to a place of lesser importance in world commerce due to the lack of mechanized harvesting and breaking technology needed for mass production. But this natural resource was far too valuable to be relegated to the back burner of history forever.

In 1916, a U.S Department of Agriculture bulletin predicted that once a decorticating and harvesting machine was developed, cannabis would again become America’s largest agricultural industry. Some 22 years later, Popular Mechanics introduced a new generation of investors to just such a device, which brings us to this next bit of history.

A Plan To Save Our Forests

Some cannabis plant strains regularly reach treelike heights of 20 feet or more in one growing season.

In 1916, the U.S. Department of Agriculture wrote in special bulletin No. 404 that one acre of cannabis hemp, in annual rotation over a 20-year period, would produce as much pulp for paper as 4.1 acres of trees over the same 20-year period being cut down; and this process would use only 1/5 to 1/7 as much sulfur-based acid chemicals to break down the glue-like lignin that binds with the fibers of the pulp.

All this lignin must be broken down to make pulp paper. Hemp is only 4% lignin, while trees are 18-30% lignin. Thus hemp provides four times as much pulp with five to seven times less pollution (and yet, today is totally illegal, as it has been for the last half-century).

This hemp pulp-paper potential depended on the invention and engineering of new machines for stripping the hemp by modem technology. This would also lower the cost of and demand for lumber for housing and at the same time help re-oxygenate to planet.

As an example: If the new (1916) hemp pulp paper process were legal today, it would soon replace about 70% of all wood pulp paper, including computer printout paper, corrugated boxes and paper bags.

Pulp paper made from rags or machined from 60% to 100% hemp hurds is stronger and more flexible than paper made from wood pulp and makes a less expensive, more ecological paper, and a better one.

Conservation & Source Reduction

Source reduction is a cost-cutting waste control method often called for by environmentalists: reduction of the source of pollution, usually from manufacturing with petrochemicals or their derivatives.

In the supermarket when you are asked to choose paper or plastic for your bags, you are faced with an environmental dilemma; paper from trees that were cut, or plastic bags made from fossil fuel and chemicals. With a third choice—hemp hurd paper—available, one could choose a biodegradable, durable paper from an annually renewable source, the hemp plant.

The goal is to reduce the source of pollution. Whether the source of the pollution is CFC’s (chloro-flourocarbons) from spray cans, computers and refrigeration, or tritium and plutonium produced for military uses, or the sulfuric acids used by papermakers, reducing the source of pollution is the goal.

The environmental advantages of harvesting hemp annually—leaving the trees in the ground!—make papermaking from hemp hurds critical for source reduction, along with the use of hemp to replace fossil fuel as an energy source.

Energy And The Economy

The book Solar Gas (1980), Science Digest, Omni Magazine, The Alliance for Survival, the “Green Party” of West Germany and others put the total figure of our energy costs at 80% of the total dollar expenses of living for each human being.

In validation: 82% of the total value of all issues traded on the New York Stock Exchange, other world stock exchanges, etc., are tied directly to:

  • Energy supply companies (Exxon, Shell, etc.) wells/coal mines (Con Edison, and so forth);
  • Energy transportation (pipeline companies, oil shipping and delivery companies) or;
  • Refineries and retail sales (Exxon, Mobile, Shell, So. Calif. Edison, NY Edison, et al.)

Americans—5% of world population—in their drive for more ‘net worth’ and ‘productivity’ use 25% to 40% of the world’s energy. The hidden cost to the environment cannot be measured. 82% of all your dollars translates roughly into 33 of every 40 hours you work going to pay for the ultimate energy cost in the goods and services, one way or another (transportation, heating, cooking, lighting) you purchase.

Our current fossil energy sources also supply about 80% of all solid and airborne pollution which is slowly poisoning the planet. (See U.S. EPA report 1983-89 on coming world catastrophe from carbon dioxide imbalance caused by burning fossil fuels). The cheapest substitute for these expensive and wasteful energy methods is not wind or solar panels, nuclear, geothermal, and the like, but using the evenly distributed light of the sun to grow biomass. The world’s most efficient solar power source has already been created.

It is a plant. And on a global scale, the most energy efficient plant is hemp, an annually renewable resource able to replace all fossil fuels.

The early Oil Barons (Rockefeller, Standard; Rothschild, Shell; et al) paranoiacally aware in the Twenties of the possibilities of Ford’s methanol scheme (Henry Ford even grew marijuana on his estate after 1937 to prove the cheapness of methanol), dropped and kept oil prices incredibly low, between $1 to $4 per barrel (there are 42 gallons in an oil barrel) for almost 50 years until 1970. So low, in fact, that no other energy source could compete with them… and once they were sure of the lack of competition, the price jumped to almost $40 per barrel in the next ten years.

Suddenly, for whatever reason, we are now in an era when oil is not only prohibitively expensive, but embargoes or wars by foreign nations, i.e., OPEC, Libya, Iran, etc., can virtually hold the U.S. hostage; that’s how dependent we are on foreign sources of polluting petroleum products. Biomass conversion to fuels should begin immediately to both stop planetary pollution and make us energy independent.

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By the year 2000, the U.S. will have burned 80% of its petroleum resources, while our coal reserves may last 100 years or so longer. But the decision to continue burning coal has serious drawbacks.

This high-sulfur coal is responsible for our acid rain, which already kills 50,000 Americans and 5,000 to 10,000 Canadians annually.

Clean, Renewable Fuel Source

Fuel is not synonymous with petroleum, let’s get over that. And new hemp/biomass energy systems will create millions of new jobs!

Hemp biomass can replace every type of fossil fuel energy product. When hemp is grown for biomass as a renewable energy crop, CO2 (carbon dioxide) is breathed in by the living plants to build cell structure; the left over oxygen is breathed out replenishing earth’s air supply. Then when the carbon rich hemp biomass is burned for energy the CO2 is released back into the air. The CO2 cycle is balanced when the crop is grown the next year. This is the true meaning of recycling.

Biomass conversion, utilizing the same ‘cracking’ technology employed by the petroleum industry will make charcoal to replace coal.

Charcoal contains no sulfur, so when it is burned for industry no sulfur is emitted from the process. Sulfur is the primary cause of acid rain. The rainfall in New England often falls between household vinegar and lemon juice in its acidity on the -ph scale. This is bad for every cell membrane it contacts, doing the most harm to the simplest life forms.

The biomass cracking process also produces nonsulfur fuel oil to replace fossil fuels. Again, no sulfur is released and the new CO2 doesn’t rise when harvested biomass is used for fuel.

Biomass For Energy Abundance

The gasses that remain after the charcoal and fuel oils are extracted from hemp can be used for driving electric power co-generators, too!

This biomass ‘cracking’ process can produce methanol or charcoal fuel, as well as the basic chemicals of industry: acetone, ethyl acetate, tar, pitch and creosote. The Ford Motor Co. successfully operated a biomass ‘cracking’ plant in the 1930s at Iron Mountain, Michigan, using trees. Hemp was too costly at that time, due to the labor costs of hand harvesting.

Finally, hemp seed contains 30% (by volume) oil. This oil makes high grade diesel fuel oil and aircraft engine and precision machine oil. Remember, throughout history, hemp seed was made into fuel oil: the genii’s lamp burned hemp seed oil, as did Abraham the prophet’s and Abraham Lincoln’s.

Only whale oil came near hemp seed oil in popularity for fuel.

When Rudolph Diesel invented his diesel engine, he intended to fuel it “by a variety of fuels, especially vegetable and seed oils.”

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Of course all these benefits can come from hemp, a plant uniquely suited to grow and thrive practically anywhere on Earth and to be used to reclaim marginal land and help ease the desertification of the planet.

Hemp is 77% cellulose, a basic chemical feed stock (industrial raw material) used in the production of chemicals, plastics and fibers. Depending on which U.S. agricultural report is correct, an acre of full grown hemp plants can sustainably provide from four to 50 to even 100 times the cellulose found in a cornstalks, kenaf, or sugar cane—the planet’s next highest annual cellulose plants. In most places, hemp can be harvested twice a year and, in warmer areas such as Southern California, Texas, Florida and the like, it could be a “year round” crop. Hemp has a short growing season and can be planted after food crops have been harvested.

An independent, semi-rural network of efficient and autonomous farmers will become the key economic player in the production of energy in this country.

The United States government pays (in cash or in “kind”) for farmers to refrain from growing on 89 million acres of farmland each year, called the soil bank.

Ten million of these acres in hemp would be the equivalent of 500 million to one billion acres of corn.

Hemp fuel derivatives, along with the recycling of paper, etc., would be enough to run America virtually without oil, except as petroleum fertilizer.

And 10 million to 89 million acres of hemp or other woody annual biomass planted on this restricted, unplanted fallow farmland (our soil bank) would make energy a whole new ball game and be a real attempt at doing something to save the Earth.

Family Farms Or Fossil Fuel?

In about 10 years, when our petroleum resources have dwindled to 20% of their original size, America will have four choices:

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  • Bum all our poisonous coal;
  • Go to war over foreign oil;
  • Cut down our forests for fuel; or
  • Grow and process a variety of environmentally safe fuels from biomass.

Farming only 6% of continental U.S. acreage with biomass would provide all of America’s energy needs and end dependence on fossil fuels. ‘Illegal’ hemp is Earth’s #1 biomass resource: capable of producing 10 tons per acre in four months.

Hemp is easy on the soil, and ideal crop for the semi-acrid west and open range land. (Adam Beatty, vice president of the Kentucky Agricultural Society, reported instances of good crops of hemp on the same ground for 14 years in a row without a decline in yield. “Southern Agriculture,” A. Beatty, C.M. Saxon & Co., NY; 1843. p. 113.)

It is the only biomass source available that is capable of once again making the U.S. energy independent.

Legal hemp would return billions of dollars worth of natural resource potential back to the farmers and bring millions of good jobs in energy production to America’s heartland.

Hemp energy farmers will become our producers of raw materials for many of the nation’s needs. Family farms will be saved.

Crops can be tailored to the needs of the nation. Biomass can be grown for fuel at about $30 per ton or seed crops can be pressed for oil; the left over seed cake makes a high protein raw food resource.

Hemp grown for fiber will bring the paper and textile industry back to the local communities and out of the hands of the multinational corporations.

The Catch

The “catch” is obvious: The energy companies! They own most of the petro-chemicals, pharmaceutical, liquor, and tobacco companies, and are intertwined with the insurance companies and banks that own them in such a way as to make untangling their various interlocking directorates (plutocracies) a Herculean task for even the most dedicated researcher.

Many politicians now in power, according to the press, are bought and paid for by the energy companies, and their U.S. government arm is the CIA, a.k.a. “The Company” (Robert Ludlum, et al). The Bush/Quayle administration is uniquely tied to oil, newspapers and pharmaceuticals—as well as the CIA.

The world struggle for money is actually a struggle for energy, as it is through energy that we may produce food, shelter, transportation, and entertainment.

It is this struggle which often erupts into open war.

It may not be that if we remove the cause, the conflicts will also be removed, but the possibility is strong enough that we must try.

Ultimately, the world has no other rational environmental choice but to give up fossil fuel.

Energy Security

At this point, we can tell OPEC goodbye forever.

The national balance of payments deficit is cast by the wayside and your personal energy bills can be cut by at least 50%, and perhaps as much as 90% with biomass from hemp and recycled waste.

No more elderly or poor people freezing to death or living in misery in the winter.

If introduced to Third World nations, hemp biomass could drastically cut our overseas aid and reasons for war, while raising the quality of life there by quantum leaps. The world’s economy will/should boom as it never has before.

Free Enterprise—High Profit

There are many other areas of the economy that would benefit from the re-legalization of hemp and de-regulation of commerce in non-smoking hemp, according to the non-profit Business Alliance for Commerce in Hemp (BACH).

Research by this Los Angeles-based business association indicated there are around 50,000 non-smoking commercial uses for hemp that are economically viable and market competitive. These include:

A Change In High Fashion

The arrival of newly imported hemp-cotton blended clothing from China in 1989 signals the beginning of a new era for the rapidly changing world of fashion. (Joint Venture Hempery and the Hemp Colony imports of shirts and shorts with the Stoned Wear® label can be found at a number of retail outlets or ordered through the mail.)

Public distaste for the cruelty of using furs and leather, along with the search for comfortable, natural fabrics to replace synthetics and fashion-conscious society’s ever-changing trends and tastes all offer a great opportunity to re-invigorate the domestic textile manufacture and retail trades.

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Drawing on hemp fibers’ special attributes—absorbency, insulation and strength, clothing manufacturers and designers will once again put hemp into linen to produce new lines of durable and attractive clothing and textiles.

Outerwear, warm bedsheets, soft towels (hemp is more water absorbent than cotton), diapers (even disposable ones that you don’t have to cut down trees to make), upholstery, wall coverings, natural rugs—all these can now be designed and made from hemp: generally better, cheaper and more ecologically.

Trade barriers and laws restricting the use of imported cannabis fibers need to be removed.

Hemp textiles will not be fully cost competitive until hemp fiber can be grown and processed domestically, to avoid import fees and lower the costs of transportation.

How And Why Would You Eat Cannabis Hemp?

The marijuana hemp seed (which is technically a fruit) is the second most “complete”—with the eight essential amino acids—vegetable protein source on our planet. Soybeans alone have a bit more protein.

However, hemp seed is many times cheaper and its protein potential can be utilized better than soybean by the human body. In fact, the marijuana seed is the highest in enzymes and overall amino acids of any food on our planet, including the soybean.

Hemp seed extracts, like soybeans, can be spiced to taste like chicken, steak, or pork and can be used to make tofu-type curd and margarine, at less cost than soybeans. (U.S. Agriculture Index: The Marijuana Farmers, 1972, Frazier.)

Hemp seed can be pressed for its vegetable oil, leaving a high protein seed cake as a byproduct. Sprouting any seed improves its nutritional value, and hemp can be sprouted and used like any other seed sprout for salads or cooking.

“Hemp is a favorite [bird seed] because of its nourishing oily content.” (Birds in the Garden, Margaret McKenny, 1939.)

When cannabis hemp is grown for seed, fully half the weight of the mature female plant is seed!

One almost-instant potential benefit is that all domesticated animals (dogs, cats), farm animals and poultry could be fed a nearly complete diet with just hemp seed extract protein and fat.

These two factors alone (everything else being equal) will allow animals maximum weight gain for less than current costs without any artificial growth steroids or other drugs currently poisoning the human race and food chain. In fact, hemp seed cake, the byproduct of oil pressing, was one of the world’s principal animal feeds until this century.

Hemp seed can be ground into meal, cooked, sweetened and combined with milk and made into a nutritional breakfast cereal—like oatmeal or cream of wheat. This type of porridge is known as a gruel.

Hemp leaves can also be brewed into a healthy tea and either medicinally or drunk as a beverage.

Spectre Of Worldwide Famine

The marijuana seed’s combination of amino acids, enzymes and edistins make more food protein and nutrients usable, and better than anything else. It allows a body with nutrition-blocking tuberculosis or almost any other ailment to get maximum nourishment.

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By itself, widespread use of hemp seed food protein would save many of the world’s children currently dying from protein starvation! An estimated 60% of all children born in Third World countries (about 12-20 million a year) will die this way before reaching five years of age. Many times that number have their lives dramatically shortened and/or their brains decimated.

Remember hemp is a hearty plant that grows almost anywhere, even in adverse conditions.

Furthermore, recent studies indicate that depletion of the ozone layer threatens to reduce world soya production by a substantial amount—up to 30% or even 50%, depending on the fluctuation of the density of the ozone shield. But hemp, on the other hand, resists the damage caused by increasing ultraviolet radiation and actually flourishes in it by producing more cannabinoids which provide protection from ultraviolet light.

Australia, as many countries have throughout history, survived two prolonged famines in the 19th century using nothing but marijuana seeds for protein and marijuana leaves for roughage.

It’s no wonder that some Central and South Americans hate America and want us out; they see us as ignorant killers. For years, our government demanded the paraquat poisoning of their lands: Lands these farmers had grown cannabis on by law since 1564, when Prince Phillip of Spain had ordered it grown throughout his empire to provide food, sails, rope, towels, sheets and shirts—as well as providing one of the people’s most important folk medicines for fever, childbirth, epilepsy, and poultices for rheumatism.

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Today if caught growing their old staple, cannabis, their U.S. supported government/military expropriates their lands. In exchange for doing this to their people, the leaders then qualify for American foreign and military aid; all because of marijuana, one of their peoples’ oldest livelihoods, folk medicines, food staples and joys.

A Fundamental Biological Link In The Food Chain

Our politicians who made these marijuana prohibition laws based on years of disinformation, may have doomed not only birds but the human race to extinction from another direction. Birds in the wild are essential to the food chain; and they continue to diminish in population due to—among other things, such as petrochemical pesticides—the lack of hemp seed!

With hemp seed in their diet, birds will live 10-20% longer. And their feathers have more oil, allowing longer flight.

There were more than 10 million acres of seed-laden cannabis hemp growing wild in the U.S. prior to 1937, feeding hundreds of millions of birds as their favorite and most necessary food until our government began its policy of total eradication of this most primary link in the food chain.

Oblivious to these inherent biocide (killing all life) dangers, our government (Reagan/Bush/Quayle/Rangel/Biden/Bennett/ DuPont, et al.) continues to escalate these programs of extinction unabated, both here and abroad, at the insistence of the DEA.

And not only hemp (read planet savior): DuPont has created strains of grain—for example wheat—that will only grow with their petrochemical fertilizers.

Their intention is to eradicate the surviving natural wheat and rye seeds, in the name of their personal corporate profits, leaving the planet (and all humans) solely at their corporate mercy for their hybrid strains which must have their petro-chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Corn is already so hybridized that it is not expected to last 50 years without human cultivation.

If for any reason these hybrids die out—as hybrids are apt to do—we will be without wheat forever.

Sturdy Paper Products

The devastated environments and job markets of the American Northwest and other timber regions stand to make a dramatic comeback once hemp is reintroduced to the domestic paper industry.

Paper mills can return to full production levels and loggers will find new work in hemp trades. Truck drivers can continue to haul pulp to the mills, and lumber for construction, although the price of lumber will go down as other demands on our timber resources are reduced by substituting farm-grown hemp for forest grown wood pulp.

There will also be a lot of work to do in reforestation. Our rivers will go through a period of recovery following the 60-80% reduction of paper making chemicals being dumped into them when hemp replaces wood pulp in the paper industry. This means more fish and more fishing, as well as increased camping and tourism in the beautiful and vital new growth forest regions.

Spin-Off Trades & Taxes

Hemp cellulose and oils can be used for literally tens of thousands of other uses, from paints to dynamite.

As each new hemp trade develops, money will flow from it to re-energize seemingly unrelated areas of the economy. The American worker and soon-to-be-rich entrepreneurs will bring millions of new jobs and new products to the marketplace.

They will also buy thousands of homes, cars and other non-hemp hoods; thus stimulating a real economic expansion based on the ripple effect, rather than trickle-down economics—pumping money directly into the bloodstream of the American heartland and benefiting all of society.

Revived farms mean more purchases of equipment, and new businesses create spin-off jobs in the shipping, marketing and commodities areas.

Farms, banks and investment houses would also realize large profits, and the billions of hemp-dollars in the legitimate economy would increase tax revenues and increase the liquid capital available for investment and purposing of consumer goods.

Federal, state and local governments would realize a windfall of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues without raising taxes. “If the marijuana, cocaine and heroin markets were legal, state and federal governments would collect billions of dollars annually,” [assistant professor of politics at Princeton University Ethan] Nadleman said. “Instead, they expend billions in what amounts to a subsidy of organized criminals.” (L.A. Times, Nov. 20, 1989, p. A-18.)

And of course, there’s all the money already being made off smoking marijuana; $43 billion in 1988, according to the DEA. Add to that the huge (but suppressed) home growing and smoking accessories industries, as well as the necessary farm equipment for production, looms, etc, and hemp could erase the national debt in a matter of a few short years.

Land values will rise in depressed rural areas, helping to rescue farmers, developers and speculators who might otherwise have to default on loans and further worsen the savings and loan crisis.

Land & Soil Reclamation

Land reclamation is the final and perhaps most compelling economical and ecological argument for hemp cultivation.

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Until this century, our pioneers and ordinary American farmers used cannabis to clear fields for planting, as a fallow year crop, and after forest fires to prevent mudslides and loss of watershed.

Hemp seeds put down a 10- to 12-inch root in only 30 days, compared to the one-inch root put down by the rye or barley grass presently used by the U.S. Government. Southern California, Utah and other states used cannabis routinely in this manner until about 1915. It breaks up compacted, overworked soil.

In the formerly lush Himalaya region of Bangladesh, Nepal and Tibet there is now only a light moss covering left as flash floods wash thousands of tons of topsoil away.

In 1964, Bangladesh (from bhang-cannabis, la-land, desh-people) signed an ‘anti-drug’ agreement with the U.S. not to grow hemp. Since that time the ‘marijuana-land-people’ have suffered disease, starvation and decimation, due to unrestrained flooding.

Hemp seeds sown free from airplanes flying over eroding soil could reclaim land the world over. The farmed out desert regions can be brought back year after year, not only slowing the genocide of starvation but easing threat of war and violent revolution.

Natural Guard

Instead of National Guard, why not establish a Natural Guard of environmental soldiers to be our front line for survival—planting trees, harvesting biomass (eg. hemp) from marginal farm lands and re-building the infra-structure of America: Our roads, bridges, dams, canals, railroad tracks.

Isn’t this the humane, civilized and socially responsible way to use our human resources, rather than warehousing people like animals in prison?

Our Challenge To The World: Try To Prove Us Wrong

If all fossil fuels and their derivatives (coal, oil, natural gas, synthetic fibers and petrochemicals) as well as the deforestation of trees for paper and agriculture (e.g., Brazilian & Indonesian rainforests), are banned from use in order to save the planet, preserve the ozone layer and reverse the greenhouse effect with its global warming trend:

Then there is only one known renewable natural resource able to provide all of the following goods and essentials such as paper and textiles, meet all the world’s transportation, home and industrial energy needs, and clean the atmosphere—all at the same time—our old standby that did it all before: Cannabis Hemp… Marijuana!

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    richard r bryner jr

    June 18, 2020 at 9:01 am

    In the future on star trek I wondered how they eliminated poverty and money, there you go!humans must change now! I have been fighting the war on cannabis since 1973, the first time I got busted! But now this disable peacetime Veteran with no income since 1996 will die in a country that is still not really free, so sad! btc addy 1BwYxmCJstyvBVGMuBPxfutcMuC7rVyxKT

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    Bruce Michael Dietzen

    June 22, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    IMHO, Jack wrote the most influential book of our time. My favorite part was about Henry Ford and his Hemp Car. Ford envisioned a way for humanity to “Go Carbon Negative” by making everything possible from plants…80 years ago! This book is an essential read for anyone truly interested in Cannabis/Hemp…and saving the planet.

    https://www.amazon.com/Emperor-Wears-No-Clothes-Marijuana-ebook/dp/B086N2Q318

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