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Remembering the Godfather of the Modern Hemp Legalization Movement, Jack Herer (1939-2010)

Jack Herer, the godfather of the modern hemp legalization movement, holds a large bud up to his face and inhales the beautiful scent with a smile on his face.

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Remembering the Godfather of the Modern Hemp Legalization Movement, Jack Herer (1939-2010)

I’m not sure when I first ran in to Jack Herer, but it was in the late 1980s. Our first few meetings were superficial, but in the 90s we became friends after getting to chat at Dennis Peron’s house. Peron was the co-author of California Proposition 215 and the first person to open a medical cannabis club, the San Francisco Cannabis Buyer’s Club, right on Market Street [the main artery of the City].

During this time we got to know each other and became friends. Jack was still living in Southern California, near Los Angeles. We were both doing all we could to help Dennis get Prop 215 passed. This was a turbulent time with all the federal raids and all the deaths of the AIDS epidemic.

Jack Herer and Dennis Peron

Jack and I both felt that we owed a huge debt to the gay community for all they suffered and went through to get the world to accept medical marijuana. All the work paid off; in 1996 California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana. After this, Jack and I came to know and understand each other and realized how very much we both believed in this.

We became very good friends, but still didn’t see each other all that often. Shortly after, I was arrested for cultivation and became the first person arrested, tried and acquitted under Prop 215.

During all this, Jack supported my wife Linda and me from afar. He was still in L.A. and would remain there for several more years. With the support, love, help and kindness from Dennis Peron, Linda and I were able to get through the 18 months of hell that the trial turned out to be.

After that victory, Linda and I were asked to appear at many industry events. Through this and our involvement in helping tens of thousands to get their medical cannabis recommendation we saw Jack more often.

Sadly, about the time we moved to the ranch Jack had a stroke at an event in Oregon. We didn’t hear from or see Jack for a year or so, but as he got stronger and started to travel more we once again ran in to him at different events.

But, Jack couldn’t remember.

He seemed to remember my wife Linda, but not me. One year, Linda and I were sitting on a balcony overlooking Seattle Hempfest. As Linda and I sat there smoking a couple of fatties, I heard someone say, “There’s Eddy right over there!”

As my back was to them, I asked Linda who it was she said it was Jack Herer. As I stood up and turned to meet Jack, his face lit up in a huge smile. As he hugged and drooled all over me, he said, “I remember, my God, I finally remember.”

Jack would move to central California to work on the book he was still working on when he passed. After three or four months there, he moved north to Lake County to be with Linda and me.

We traveled everywhere—all over the U.S. and the world. I can’t tell you the many times we were on stage together. It was such a joy to see Jack fight so hard and come back from his stroke, but come back he did. Sadly, he never was 100 percent again.

Over the course of several years he got much better at speaking publicly, which was one of his greatest joys. He didn’t just lecture or teach, but he shared his love for this sacred plant.

Once Jack moved to Lake County he was able to grow his own for the very first time, which gave him as much joy and happiness as just about anything we ever did, and we did a lot of things.

Linda and I shared so much with the Herers, the saddest thing we had to share was the passing of my wife, Linda Senti, the “Itty Bitty Pretty One.” After Linda’s passing we were even closer, he had loved her dearly. Awhile after she passed I married her best friend, Linda, who In the years before Jack’s passing would help work on his book and help write the California Cannabis Hemp and Health Initiative in Jack’s memory. Friends such as Michael Jolson and several others are still trying to get this law passed.

One of the things we had the most fun doing was Jack’s TV show, which we filmed Mondays through Fridays at 4:20 p.m. each day. Jack would shoot it anywhere, but most of the shows were shot at the farm in from of our home. She and I would rush home every day to catch the last half hour of the show. To this day, my wife Linda is still best friends with Jack’s wife, Jeannie Herer. When Jack and I would speak at all the different places, I would always follow him so if he got lost or confused he could just say, “here is my friend Eddy.” Each and every time this happened I nearly cried, and sometimes I did.

Eddy Lepp and Jack Herer

When I went to prison, it was very hard on Jack as we were and always will be best friends. I can’t thank her enough for all the support she gives Linda and I as we struggle to finish this draconian sentence and get me home.

Every person should have a hero, someone that they admire, wish to emulate and follow so that they can lead others and be a better person. I am not talking about being a star; anybody with just a little luck and talent can be a star.

It is the rare and lucky person that not only gets to meet their hero, but also ends up knowing them. The luckiest of all are the ones who can say that their hero is their best friend. Jack Herer was not only your hero, but also my hero and my best friend.

Four years after he has died, please once again remember the Hemperor Jack Herer, keep him alive in the debate and struggles as we move towards cannabis legalization. As Jack used to say, hemp can and will change the world.

Jack, you were a special man and you did change the world. On behalf of us all my dear friend, thank you.

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