Jack Herer’s Hempire Under Siege

Jack Herer is a living legend of the cannabis legalization movement. As author of the seminal masterwork The Emperor Wears No Clothes, and as an activist for 38 years, he has inspired many of the marijuana and hemp community’s greatest leaders and helped enlighten countless thousands to the futility and injustice of America’s war on cannabis.

On July 15, 2000, Jack had a heart attack and stroke while on stage at the Bill Conde World Hemp Festival in Oregon, and was rushed to the hospital. Initially he was unable to speak or move much of his body but after several years of recovery, he was back in action, speaking at events and working on projects. Jack and his wife of ten years, Jeannie, both attributed his successful recuperation in part to Rick Simpson’s Hemp Oil, and in recent months Jack said he felt stronger than ever.

Sadly, Jack had another heart attack backstage at Oregon’s Hempstalk on September 12, 2009, and again suffered anoxic brain injury leaving him with severe speech and physical impediments.

He was put in a medically induced coma for a few days, and was in the intensive care unit for almost three weeks. Friends and relatives spoke to and played songs for him at his bedside in the weeks afterward as he began to show signs of recovery. Paul Stanford, executive director of the THCF, told the Salem-News.com that Jack had “moved his fingers, turned his head from side to side, stretched, yawned, and opened his eyes.”

“Given the circumstances, Jack’s recovery to this point is astounding,” Stanford said. “Last week, he was in a deep coma with little brain activity.”

Under the authority of his wife Jeannie, Jack was eventually moved to the Avamere Riverpark care facility in mid-October to receive nursing attention and physical rehab.

Though the Hemperor seemed to be on the road to recovery, trouble was brewing in the Hempire.

A bizarre attack came in the form of an erroneous article published by the Examiner.com reporting Jack had died. The article, by an anti-drug writer named John English, was removed from the site shortly afterward.

On November 2, 2009, Salem-News.com’s Bonnie King reported that Jack had returned to the hospital and was diagnosed with bronchitis. She also reported Jeannie was unhappy with a decision by Avamere to acknowledge a Power of Attorney (POA) that gave medical authority to two of Jack’s assistants, Chuck Jacobs and Joy Graves. The article explained that the move came after Joy noticed a Do Not Resuscitate order on Jack’s medical chart, apparently approved of by Jeannie:

“Do Not Resuscitate”, the nurse explained, means that should Jack have a heart attack, he would not receive CPR, they would not make every effort to save him. They would let him die in peace. “Do Not Transport” was also checked, which means there would be no ambulance ride to the hospital.

The order was a surprise to Joy, and a shock after all the effort to save his life. She inquired as to how it came to be, and how it could be changed. Jeannie Herer had signed the order, so it was up to her to change it. Unsatisfied with that conclusion and in an attempt to ensure Jack’s ability to survive a future health emergency, she revealed that she held Jack’s Power of Attorney.

The care center took some time to deliberate the ramifications of the situation, bringing in their legal team, and determined that the document was legal and binding.

The DNR order was reversed.

King wrote in her article, “the DNR order reversal may well have saved Jack’s life”, as the “DNR would have made the ambulance ride to the ER impossible.”

The story sparked flames of controversy and divided many of Jack’s friends and supporters into two camps: those who supported Jeannie and those who supported Joy and Chuck.

The Power of Attorney and The Most High

In the years before his second heart attack, Jack was working on a new book called The Most High: Plant Secrets of the Gods and Explorations Revealing the End of the World as You Know It.

In May 2004 Jack told The Free Press that Amanita muscaria, a psychoactive mushroom, was the “secret” to his recovery:

Jack said that about a year ago he had undergone an initial, intensely religious Amanita Muscaria experience. This mushroom ritual brought on a strong trance that lasted for 12 hours. During this period Jack feels that he met god. Since then he has medicated with Amanita Muscaria and marijuana almost daily. Jack’s daily regiment consists of small doses (.2 gram) of Amanita Muscaria every few hours throughout the day. These relatively small doses of have very subtle psychedelic effects for him but they greatly enhances his ability to speak.

After years of researching and working with other authors, Jack was convinced that Amanita muscaria played heavily in religious history. His new book would document biblical references to the sacred mushroom and show that it was, in essence, God.

Chuck Jacobs was Jack’s longtime friend, live-in caretaker, and driver while the two had been on the road to several Hemp festivals throughout the summer. Joy Graves, Jack’s friend of several years, had manned Hempfest booths and worked side-by-side with the activists.

According to Joy and Chuck, Jack was adamant about publishing The Most High but was worried that his wife Jeannie would attempt to stop its release if something happened to him.

“Jack knew that Jeannie hated the book and it was well-apparent at the household,” Chuck told Cannabis Culture. “She did not like the book, and that was that.”

According to nearly all sources contacted by this reporter (some who asked to remain anonymous), it was common knowledge that Jeannie disliked Jack’s association with co-author James Arthur, who had once worked on the book with Jack but later committed suicide in prison. Jeannie thought the printing of a book associated with Arthur would harm her husband’s credibility, sully his legacy, and possibly harm sales of The Emperor Wears No Clothes.

Bonnie King wrote in the Salem-News that Jack and Jeannie’s troubles ran deeper than just a dispute over the book:

In early summer, Jeannie and Jack went their separate ways. Not surprisingly, they are both overwrought with obligations and a packed schedule, and she hoped to inspire Jack to take it easy. She says she believed they would reunite at the end of the season. Jack had Jeannie’s name taken off his lease in July. By many accounts, they were separated.

“There were definitely problems [with Jack and Jeannie’s relationship],” Chuck said. “But I never heard anything about a divorce.”

Jack was so worried about the future of The Most High that he began to draw up papers for a Power of Attorney that would give authority over all his dealings – the book, medical issues, and anything else – to Joy Graves and Chuck Jacobs (click here to see the Power of Attorney form).

“All through Seattle we fought about it because he wanted me as Power of Attorney,” Joy Graves said in an interview with Cannabis Culture. “I told him that I didn’t want to get involved in that kind of stuff.[…] He kept saying ‘I’m running out of time’ and told me he felt Jeannie was going to try to get him deemed incompetent in court to prevent him from putting the book out.”

“Jack has been researching the mushroom book since 1983 when he first read John Allegro’s The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross,” Jeannie Herer explained in an e-mail to Cannabis Culture. “I started researching with him in 1996, but we were never able to put it all together before Jack’s major stroke in 2000. He couldn’t speak at all for two years. Then James Arthur a.k.a. James Dugovic came to our house and told us that if Jack would move to his house in North Fork, he would help him with the book and it would be finished in three months. It ended up being 13 months and only three chapters were done. James committed suicide in jail, and obviously couldn’t work on the book any more. I didn’t see any way to separate him from the book because Jack couldn’t write at the time the book was written, and he was still struggling to speak. It’s not the same book Jack was working on before he met James. Jack can’t read the book himself and every time I’ve tried to read it to him, he falls asleep. I know how important it is to Jack to get this book out and I wasn’t going to try to stop him. I just knew it wasn’t going to be good for Jack’s reputation and I made my feelings clear to him.”

Jan Irvin, another co-author who was working on the book with Jack up until just a few weeks before his latest heart attack, told Cannabis Culture the book was unfinished and needed many months of work to be completed.

“Fifty percent of it isn’t print ready – it’s not even close,” he said. “It’s just a bunch of notes and stuff thrown together. It would be wrong to publish a book that is not finished. If it’s printed the way it is, any academic who read it would laugh at it. It wouldn’t give Jack his due respect for 20 years of research on this.”

Irvin said that he met with Jack recently to discuss the book.

“I went over to his room where he and Chuck Jacobs were staying,” Jan said. “We were talking about the book and he said he wanted me to finish it right now! I told him that I have bills to pay and I can’t just give up everything I do and work on the book for six months. ‘Goddamnit, you have to because I don’t have time’ he told me. He knew that his days were numbered. And then he looks over at Chuck and says ‘and I’m giving Chuck Jacobs Power of Attorney over the book.’ When I asked why he said, ‘because I trust him.'”

Despite the book being a work in progress, Jack was apparently serious about the transfer of authority to Joy and Chuck and had the papers drawn up.

A clause on the Power of Attorney form specifically giving Chuck and Joy authority states:

TO AUTHORIZE, PRESERVE, AND PROTECT INTERESTS IN THE WRITTEN WORKS UNPUBLISHED HEREIN REFERED [SIC] BY ‘THE MOST HIGH PLANT SECRETS OF THE GODS AND EXPLORATIONS REVEALING THE END OF THE WORLD, AS YOU KNOW IT’ SO THAT IT MAY BE COMPLETED AND PUBLISHED AS IT IS MY WILL AND INTENT.

A letter written by the notary public (and acquired by Cannabis Culture), who witnessed the signing reads, “Mr. Herer stated to me that he was most concerned with protecting an unfinished manuscript which he felt was in danger of interference from his wife as he was soon to be divorced and had been separated for some months. He also advised that he felt that the medical documentation was important as well as he was soon to be traveling out of the country for business for some time.”

On September 12, just hours before he collapsed, Jack met with Joy and a notary public and put his signature to paper.

Eve Lentz, The Do Not Resuscitate Order, and Hemp Oil

Eve Lentz was a close friend of Jack for many years who became closer in the months leading up to his most recent heart attack. In an interview with Cannabis Culture, Eve said Jack made clear to her that Jeannie had left him in July and the marriage was over for good.

“I do not date married men; I do not have anything to do with married men. Jack has been a dear friend of mine since 1996, I see him all the time, and I’ve traveled with him and know his crew. He took me out for dinner after Seattle Hempfest this year and told me his wife had left him and he wanted me to come down and be his secretary, editor of the book The Most High, and his girlfriend. He told me that Jeannie knew that I was coming and that she was alright with it.”

Eve moved into Jack’s Lake County, California home in late August 2009. She said she was very much in love with him and admitted the two had become intimate. However, as time progressed, Eve said she became aware Jack had not been completely honest and realized he wanted to keep their relationship a secret from Jeannie, so she broke it off.

“I didn’t want to be a mistress,” Eve said. “I talked to Jack and we agreed that I don’t want to live with him until he figures out his marriage problems. If he has to lie to her about it, I just can’t handle that.”

Shortly afterward, Jack suffered the attack and was back in the hospital.

On September 26, Chuck signed a contract giving Eve editorial control of The Most High, agreeing to pay her “$10/hour or 20% royalties of the book, whichever is greater, plus any commission or profits on any sales she promotes for the book.” According to Chuck, the contract also stated that nothing was guaranteed.

Joy Graves said she was shocked when she noticed the DNR order on Jack’s medical chart and revealed her authority as POA to have it removed. Jeannie said she had been convinced by hospital doctors to sign the paper.

“They wanted me to sign a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form,” Jeannie wrote to Cannabis Culture in an e-mail. “The doctor explained that if he had another heart attack, he wouldn’t be able to survive it but if I didn’t sign the paper, they would still have to pound on his chest and possibly crack his chest and also shock him, which they had already done at the festival and he still had burn marks on his chest. He said that when people die a natural death, endorphins are released that make them more comfortable at the end but not when you do that.

“I agreed that if he had another heart attack while he was in there, they were not to torture him that way. But in all other ways, they were to take the best care and do everything they could to save him if something happened. There are several parts to a DNR and you can customize it how you want it.

“It did not prevent transportation for hospital care in other situations, nor did it prevent tube feeding (which he is still on), or ventilation (which he had at Legacy, and has had again because he has had pneumonia). He would have received treatment for infection, pneumonia, diabetes, and all of the complications he has experienced, with it in place. Joy did not need to contra-indicate it; in fact she created a situation in which he would have been full code if he did have another heart attack, and he would undoubtedly experienced much pain with little chance of survival.”

Cannabis Culture contacted Avamere Riverpark for confirmation, but the care facility would not disclose any information due to privacy concerns.

Eve was also at the care facility with Jack and witnessed him saying words to others in the room and on the telephone, and even captured video footage of Jack mouthing the words to the song “You Are My Sunshine” and pressing a button on a hand-held toy that lights up and spins.

Eve said Jack was very responsive when she or Joy was alone with him, but that he would clam up when others like Jeannie or Chuck were in the room. She also said that Jeannie’s visits eventually became disruptive and a problem for Jack.

“She started asking Jack ‘So who do you want to be with? If you want me to leave then I’ll leave, but tell me.’ So then he closed his eyes and she said, ‘stop playing possum with me! I know you’re awake!’ And then she just kept badgering him. All of a sudden he just curled up in a ball, turned to his right and started crying. She came over and started kissing and hugging him and he yelled — and this is the first and only thing that he has yelled so loud that everyone could here him — he said my name ‘Eve!’ really loud. A nurse that was out in the hallway runs in and says, ‘That’s it, I heard that!'”

At the same time animosity was building between Joy and Jeannie, and it was erupting into a war of words online. Jeannie had long been responsible for maintaining Jack’s web presence through his website and MySpace page and was using the platform to publish her perspective of events.

On October 31, before Bonnie King’s Salem-News article was published, Jeannie posted a long message online summing up events and giving a recent history of her life with Jack. In the message she also talked about her struggle with Joy and Chuck:

At some point, the social worker told me a woman I’d never met or heard of before, Joy Graves, had shown up with a medical power of attorney that Jack allegedly signed right before his heart attack, making Joy and Chuck the people in charge of his medical decisions. Their legal department said it was incomplete and probably forged and wanted to talk to Joy about it but she never did go talk to them. They decided it wasn’t a legal document-

When it was time for Jack to be released from the hospital, I wanted to take him back to California but was told it would cost me $6,000 to transport him there because his insurance didn’t cover it. We get by month to month and don’t have savings or property so instead I paid $600 for him to be moved to Eugene, where his daughter and some of our good friends live.

He went to Hillside Rehab but they weren’t ready for him when he got there. They didn’t have his insulin or diabetic food for his tube. His blood sugar was over 400 for two days. On the third day I asked them to take him to a hospital. When he got to Sacred Heart Hospital his blood sugar was 488.[…]

Joy Graves refuses to return my calls but I’ve heard the reason she’s doing this to Jack is because of the DNR. I don’t know what the truth is.

After three days in the hospital he was stable again and moved to Avamere Riverpark Rehab. A few days later he fell out of bed about 4:00 in the morning. He had lumps on his head and bruises on his eyelids. He seemed pretty traumatized for about three days and then started feeling better.

After being here with him every day since September 13, I needed to go back to California, clear out the Santa Rosa house, get some paperwork I needed for Jack’s insurance, get our cat, my computer and some clothes because I knew we were going to be in Eugene for a few months at least. I went to do this last weekend.

I asked Elvy Musikka and Sharon Cohen to please check on Jack a few times while I was gone for three days. They called me when I was driving back and said the nursing home had kicked them out because Joy Graves had shown up with the paper and they accepted it as being legal and there was a list of people who could see Jack and they weren’t on it. I called the nursing home and they confirmed it and said I wasn’t on the list either.

After Jack’s heart attack, several people said to me that he recently told them he was heartbroken that I had left him. But I hadn’t left him. I was waiting for him to come home after the Portland festival and he knew that.

Now Eve is saying that’s not what he wanted and he planned to break up with me. She is trying to get me to believe that Jack talks to her at the nursing home when I’m not there. As far as I can tell, Jack is still trying to talk but isn’t able to yet. The people who run the nursing home won’t tell me if this is true or not. I just want Jack to get better so I can find out what he really wants. I love him very much and he’ll always be my hero.

Jack gave me a purpose in life. He made me believe that we can really change the world with hemp and everyone will be happier and healthier for it. I believe that and I’ll keep working for it, no matter what.

Upset by these and other comments, many of Jack’s supporters, including some of Jack’s six children, were angry at what looked like a scam taking place. Understandably, many were concerned that a woman none of them had ever heard of was suddenly in control of Jack’s assets and health concerns while his wife cried foul.

Shortly after this message was published, Jeannie posted a host of documents including the POA with Chuck and Joy’s addresses in full view online, as well as a personal letter from Eve to Jack.

“It’s scary because they have been calling me out and sending me threats,” Joy said, “telling me to watch out and asking ‘why are you killing Jack?’ When Jeannie first posted there were over 20 calls within the first two hours threatening Avamere facility. They were going to blow it up, they were going to burn it down […] After that happened, the staff had a meeting and they told me straight up — over half the staff that deals with this ward doesn’t want Jack here. I pretty much got down on my knees and begged them please.”

“I disclaim any connection with anybody making any personal threats against Joy and Eve,” Jeannie told Cannabis Culture. “I don’t condone any such actions, and have not authorized or encouraged any such actions. I posted the documents about which there was so much publicity so that people who cared about Jack could see the relevant documents for themselves. I did not reveal any information about either of them which is not already publicly available, both online and in other public records.”

Though all parties involved initially agreed that Jack should be receiving hemp oil as a medicine, the care facility would not allow it. According to several sources there were covert attempts to give Jack the oil, one such incident apparently clogging his feeding tube. There were also rumors after Jack was briefly sent back to the hospital because someone had given him the oil as a suppository, causing him intestinal problems. Joy says that she eventually came to believe giving him the oil was the wrong thing to do until he was moved to a “420-friendly” facility.

The Restraining Orders

As the struggle between Joy and Jeannie escalated, Joy claims she was getting fed up with the threats, rumors of the hemp oil being wrongly administered, and what she considered disruptive behavior from Jeannie.

Adult Protective Services got wind of the situation and eventually interviewed both Joy and Chuck.

“At that point,” Joy said, “they brought it to my attention and said I needed to file an elderly and disabled retraining order against Jeannie because she was putting my life in danger with her Internet posts. They said because I’m terminally ill myself, I was eligible to get a restraining order on Jeannie.”

The restraining order was filed in an Oregon court, and Jeannie was served on November 3, making it impossible for her to visit her husband in the care facility or post anything on his websites. Joy’s move to have Jeannie removed from the equation threw gasoline on an already raging fire.

Chuck Jacobs had been standing in for Jack on a European tour with Rick Simpson, but returned to the U.S. in the middle of a virtual firefight. Although Chuck and Jeannie’s relationship had been cold since the POA was revealed, he was beginning to have doubts about Joy and was upset that she had filed the restraining order without discussing it with him first.

“When I found out that Jeannie was banned from seeing Jack,” Chuck said, “and the fact that he was not getting his THC, and that Joy seemed to be okay with him not getting it, it just turned my stomach. And I kind of started seeing a vibration that I did not like. So, I had to put my foot down using my POA with the medical end of it and get rid of them, so the family could get back in.”

Chuck told Cannabis Cuture that he thought Jeannie’s so-called “disruptive” behavior was understandable considering the circumstances, and that it was, in his opinion, not enough to ban her from seeing her husband.

“I could imagine that there was probably enough drama within that setting — all of a sudden this other woman is there trying to take over — Jeannie has been with Jack since 1996, okay — I can imagine that things might have gotten worked up at a point or two.”

Chuck voiced his displeasure to Joy about the restraining order, but she would not be persuaded to drop it and a rift formed between the two.

“I totally felt comfortable with her until she started pulling all this shit,” Chuck said.

Though the relationship was becoming fractured, Joy and Chuck collaborated on filing the Jack Herer California Cannabis Hemp Initiative. As the divide between the two widened, Joy thought Chuck was not fulfilling his duties as Power of Attorney.

“I told Chuck I wanted him to handle all the business aspects and he didn’t do anything,” she said. “There’s people on the Internet now asking for the signature sheets for the initiative, he still hasn’t responded to them. There’s been no signatures and there’s been no money collected. He wasn’t doing anything.”

“I’m the one that was with Jack every single day,” Chuck said. “I took care of him and gave him his insulin everyday. I love him. All of a sudden these people step in and they think they know what’s going on? They think they know everything about Jack and his family and everything else? Fuck her.”

On November 10, a court dismissed the restraining order against Jeannie because Jack was not a citizen of Oregon. A few days later, Joy made a trip to California to put another restraining order on Jeannie and filed one against Chuck as well.

“She tried to get the state of Oregon to press charges against me and Jeannie for giving him THC,” Chuck said. “She filled out in the restraining order that we were giving him illegal substances. The Rick Simpson oil. You watch his last statement and tell me that you would deny this man THC. You watch any statement over the last two years and tell me that you would deny this man THC. She also filed abuse on an elder charges with the state of Oregon Adult Protective Services.”

Adult protective services was contacted by Cannabis Culture but refused comment on the case.

Jeannie was eventually served with a restraining order after a dramatic altercation on November 14, which she wrote about online. In the same message she mentioned she was being denied access to Jack and that Joy had filed a legal separation for Jack and Jeannie:

Because Joy has caused so many disturbances while I’ve been there, the facility is not allowing me to see Jack for now. Only Jack’s kids can see him. My attorney is doing what she can, as fast as she can, but court dates take time to come around.

Joy also went to Lake County, California and filed a legal separation from me for Jack on October 29. She gave the date of the end of our marriage as 7/7/09. If Jack had wanted a legal separation on 7/7/09, why didn’t he get it himself? He didn’t have the heart attack until September 12. Our 10-year anniversary was September 9. He was on the road but he called me and wished me a happy anniversary and told me he loved me and that he would be in Santa Rosa with me as soon as he was finished with the Portland hemp fest.

“Jack had Jeannie taken off his house lease in July,” Joy said. “He had written a letter saying his wife had moved out; that’s why I filed the separation for July 7.

Jack’s Recovery

By this time Avamere was allowing neither Joy nor Jeannie to see Jack, and only his children were allowed access.

On December 4, the restraining order placed against Jeannie was dismissed and she was finally allowed to see her husband.

“I saw him today,” she told Cannabis Culture. “He fell out of bed again this morning at 4:30 a.m. This is the second time that’s happened since he’s been moved to Riverpark. They still refuse to give him a bed with rails. Also, a few days ago, he was being turned in his bed and his arm got caught in his feeding tube and it was pulled out. It started bleeding and he was sent to the hospital again to have it repaired.

“He’s able to swallow a little better now but not well enough to have the feeding tube removed. He’s still trying to talk but isn’t able to yet. He can move his left arm but that’s about it.”

Jeannie also talked briefly about Jack’s current mental condition.

“Jack is minimally responsive,” she said, “with some visual tracking. He is trying to talk but can’t yet. I was with him in speech therapy today. The therapist tried to get him to repeat words that she was saying. He tried to repeat ‘hello’. She counted to 10 and he couldn’t repeat any of the numbers. She said the alphabet and he couldn’t repeat any of the letters. I haven’t heard her try to sing with him yet. A couple of weeks ago, I tried to get him to say ‘hemp oil’ and he did.”

“The whole thing is frustrating,” Joy said, “because I know Jack is in there a lot more than they think he is. The Hemperor is alive and well. He’s there. He’s having a hard time coming back out right now, but he’s there.”

According to Joy, while Jack was receiving care at the McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Springfield Chuck had a Do Not Resuscitate order placed back on Jack that still applies.

Documentation provided by Joy to Cannabis Culture states:

CODE STATUS HAS BEEN ADDRESSED WITH THE PATIENT’S POWER-OF-ATTORNEY, MR. ________, AND HE EXPRESSED LIMITED CODE. HE EXPRESSED THAT IT IS OKAY TO INTUBATE IN CASE OF RESPITORY FAILURE, BUT HE DEFINAITELY SAID NO TO RESUSCITATION IN CASE OF CARDIAC ARREST, SO NO CPR BUT OKAY WITH INTUBATION.

“I want that DNR order reversed immediately,” she said.

For the interim, calm has fallen across Jack Herer’s Hempire, though the battle for control continues quietly. Cannabis Culture confirmed with Jack’s son Mark Herer that he will be filing for conservatorship over Jack — if approved by the court, it would override the Power of Attorney.

Jack Herer has been a fighter his entire life, and he is still fighting. But he is not fighting alone – hundreds of supporters stand behind him. On December 4, THCF and NORML groups held a benefit for Jack at the Oregon Cannabis Café to raise money for Jacks medical expenses. The money will be put in a US Bank fund controlled by Jeannie and the family.

Keep fighting Jack.

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