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Opinion: Jack Herer (the cannabis strain) is overrated

August 30, 2019
(Turgay Malikli/iStock, Julia Sumpter/Leafly)
Jack Herer is one of the most well-known men—and cannabis strains—in the whole wide world of weed. The man, for those unfamiliar, is a famed cannabis activist who authored The Emperor Wears No Clothes, a comprehensive book on cannabis and hemp, and the various uses and benefits of them. This article is not about him. Jack Herer the strain is a sativa-dominant cultivar created by crossing a Haze hybrid with Northern Lights #5 and Shiva Skunk. The strain is THC-dominant, and terpene-wise, it mainly has terpinolene, caryophyllene, and pinene. These terps push fresh pine and black pepper flavors, reminiscent of many Haze-influenced cannabis strains.

What is terpinolene and what does this cannabis terpene do?

For some people, this famous strain is exactly what they want from cannabis. For others, like me, absolutely none of this is appealing. I’ll tell you why.

The flavor tastes like bad breath

When it comes to cannabis, I’m very much aware of how individualistic all of our experiences are. I know that some of us like sweet strains, some of us like fruity strains, and some of us like strains like Jack Herer that taste of earth and black peppery spice.


What’s the Difference Between Sweet and Fruity Cannabis Strains?

I enjoy the first two, but that earthy flavor of cannabis is absolutely disgusting. Sure, most cultivars producing these terpenes are powerful and get you stoney baloney, but if you don’t enjoy the smell or taste of your buds, you definitely will not enjoy the complete experience. When I smoke Jack, regardless of grower or phenotype, the flavor simply tastes like dirty air that makes me think, “Oh yeah, my breath is going to smell terrible after this.” And that’s on both the inhale and exhale.

The high is sooooo blah

Have you ever smoked a strain that was potent, but the high was so heady that you never actually felt stoned, you just felt like your head was on fire and you couldn’t wait for it to end? That’s what Jack Herer did to ya boy on July 16, 2017. It’s said that Jack Herer gives consumers a boost of cerebral stimulation, resulting in a clear-headed and blissful experience. My experience was anything but clear-headed or blissful. I smoked a joint of this strain before a flight and after an entire gram of rolled flower, I felt like my mind was all cloudy and bogged down, while also feeling super duper alert, to the point where I got anxious and sweaty.


How to help a friend who got too high

If that type of high sounds appealing to you, then yeah, grab this hazy cannabis strain and catch your thrills. But if you’re like me and prefer to be high and happy, then do yourself a favor: Be wary of Jack Herer genetics.

Jack Herer is a terrible teammate

Speaking of Jack Herer genetics, there are plenty of popular Jack-crossed strains that I’ve tried since my first Jack experience, and guess what? They either hit the same, or they dilute the effects from the strain(s) in the cross, because those Haze genetics are so dominant and overpowering.


Which Terpenes Are Found in ‘Haze’ Cannabis Strains?

So if you’re smoking something crossed with Jack, you might as well just get the original, because chances are this parent will shine through. A perfect example of this is Candy Jack. It crosses Skunk #1 with Jack Herer, and even though the Skunk genetics win the aroma and flavor side of things, those effects are still dominated by Jack’s presence. As you can see, Jack is a ball hog that thinks there’s an I in TEAM. Even though Jack Herer boasts a very strong 4.4 star rating on Leafly, it is a very overrated cannabis strain.
Dante Jordan's Bio Image

Dante Jordan

Dante Jordan is an Associate Subject Matter Expert for Leafly, where he specializes in informational and lifestyle content pertaining to cannabis strains and products. He also manages the Leafly strain database.

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  • Mirthless

    Weed smoking is obviously subjective but that your experience with this strain does not match up with mine in the slightest and I have smoked a ton of Jack Herer

    The joint you smoked before a plane ride in particular does not sound like Jack Herer *at all*, it sounds like you didn’t get a good example of the strain there. I have never felt cloudy or bogged down by it except on those occasions where I way overindulge. It’s the cleanest high out there for me.

  • Ok this interesting!

  • hiway12

    My daytime too!

  • Coo Kit

    Coming from a pragmatic spot, this entire piece is basically worthless because:

    1. It’s based on a single person’s singular experience without much nod to the subjective experience that comes rolled up in that J.

    2. No useful information. Like none. Opinion pieces are selfish/wasteful.
    What was the point again?

    3. Classic strains can’t be overhyped. They are classics for so many more reasons than your shitty plane ride(horrible misuse of this strain, I have to add).

    Shoulda read up on how to best use this strong, heady sativa and played accordingly. Jack H sure aint nothing to mess with. Blame yourself and move on.

    How can any strain be bad, really? Only the way it’s used can be, silly.

  • Lee Butcher

    Waaaahhh!!! I have found JH one of the best in the pain killer department (and it’s been around awhile) that has allowed me to ditch the Norco’s (10mg hydrocodone/325mg acetaminophen) that was the only thing that would stop the pain for nearly 10 years from a 35# slab that fell on my head on a job (retired from the Ironworkers because of that one). Jack was the first weed that worked for me as a pain inhibitor, and I think it’s GREAT!! Sure, there are some better pain strains out there now, but this was the one that gave me hope, along with Kratom, that I could get free of narcotic pain pills. I was taking 3 a day, and early on I was taking 7. As somebody else said, letting “noobs” write about cannabis strains is almost a slap in the face to us geezers. I’m 61 and have been smoking since 1973, and I still don’t know half of what some people know. But I don’t act as if something I don’t care for is bad just because I don’t like it. Two quotes to remember here- “If you don’t’ have anything good to say about something, don’t say anything.”-Mom; and “It’s better for one to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”- Abraham Lincoln

  • Kevin Greenlee

    Each to his own. Or her own. That said…here’s this, kid.

    Of all the strains, why Jack? I’ll tell ya why.
    ‘Cause ya know everyone likes it, and ya wanna throw some shit so people will read yur crap.

    U better find a different way.

    • No Kevin , everyone doesn’t like it. It’s OK at best for me. No offense to Mr Herer and his Book or his strains but I agree it tastes like shit when it has any taste at all. I get it from Trulieve, my dispensary, at about 20% or a bit higher THC. Sometimes I have gotten it at 26.9%. I still don’t like it. Something including Flavor, is missing for me. I use Oil to wake it up a bit for flavor and I’m 70 yrs old so I don’t give a damn how loud it gets. I don’t hate it, it’s just not what I like. My weed got to be like my Coffee. Strong,Sweet, and aromatically LOUD.. Herer is missing the Sweet and Loud part for me.

  • Exactly, sir. Well stated.

    This entire topic is ridiculous. This is simply a matter of personal preference. And anytime one takes the name of our illustreous forefather, Jack Herer, in vain…well… certainly doesn’t help one’s cred.

    • Hey Herer didn’t invent Pot. He improved some strains or not depending on individual likes and dislikes but this Herer Worship sounds Juvenile and greatly misplaced. In ,my 55 years of using flower, it’s my opinion that even with the increased THC content blowing away the old strains, it’s not as good. Then I also do realize, at my age I’m not looking to be wasted so high I can’t walk and chew gum without swallowing it. I’d swap out Wizards Mist or Chiquita for a bag of Panama Red anyday.

  • Dom B. Lemcke

    I agree, wholeheartedly! “Jack Herer” tastes like shit and for German patients, this matters because:

    The situation is dire, here in Germany!
    Two years ago, they have legalized cannabis, buut obly for medicinal use.
    I suffer from a very bad case of MS and even I couldn’t find willing doctor and when I did, I had to fight with my insurance, for they refused to pay for me therapy!
    Patients are not ab le to finance their cannabis themselves, ass 1 g costs 23,50 €! I even got intervieweedd from the German itteration of leafly;

    Now, our government does not really want to ttreat patients with cannabis, ergo, they import far too little of it, so even if you’ve found a doctor and got your insurance to pay for ot, but now you have to choose, too ofteen that means, the choice between 1 to 4 strains aand one, that is alwüays available is “Bedrocan” from the Netherlands…
    It’s not just of bad quality (much so), but due to Dutch laws, their medicinal annabis has to be radiated with gamma radiation, to make it sterile. This kills many terpenes and makes “Bedrocan’t” out of the “Jack Herer”, they aare selling.

    Unfortunately, there are only 4 “activativg” strains on the menu, of which only 1 to 2 are goig to be available and BEDROCANT/JACK HERER is one of those.
    I cannot stand the taste and even though it has been radiated, it has been the only strsin I got from the pharmacy, that has had contained MOLD!
    attm, I am very relieved as a new batch from Canada has gotten here and it contains at least one activating strain. Its called “Pedanios 18” and they do not tell us the contained strain, all I know is, that it is not the “Blue Dream”, that is sold as Pedaniops 18 in Canada. (I suppose, it being “Mango Haze”, btw). 😉

    • RxTim

      Wow…in the US…all I needed was a statement from my Urologist that I have prostate cancer….. that’s all… i just needed a doctor’s official diagnosis on his office stationary. He did NOT PRESCRIBE IT !!! I brought the diagnosis to a state approved Illinois Medical Marijuana Application Physician. He saw my diagnosis…I was approved immediately, paid my fees, was fingerprinted, had a background check and had my picture taken for my ID card.
      I actually have FOUR qualifying conditions for medical marijuana… cancer, osteoarthritis, chronic pain and CRPS (Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome…basically nerve pain.
      My dispensary has a vast array of marijuana…. up to 95% Solventless fave for pain.
      I was so thrilled to discover that when a medical marijuana dispensary opened up as half mile fron my house. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY !!! LOL

  • MXJ222

    Could not agree less with the author’s opinion. Polar opposite to my experience and assessment.

    Not a good review at all.

  • Land Shark

    I think old school horticulturalists like myself hate the new strains. To much inbreeding. Period. Landrace is where its at. I have found many new sativa strains in my new state that no one has eradicated. These need a little manipulation with other foundation plants like northern lights, blue moonshine( thank you DJ Short) and columbia red hair. But, you had to have these original strains from way back in the day when all of this was underground.

    • absolutely agree with you about Landrace strains still being the best over all experience out there. Keep the new strains, my kingdom for a bag of Panama Red !!!!

  • I got to agree. Herer is a disappointment when it comes to flavor, or aroma and for me I don’t like a bland or sour taste at all. I can’t enjoy anything no matter how much the THC is in it if it doesn’t taste good to me. I like some strains Like Gorilla Glue that are flowery6 smelling and taste like it smells. I’m real old school and smoked for 55 years now. I still have never found a better smoke than the infamous Panama Red which I had the pleasure of having on my 2 visits to Panama. I had Pot in Nam, in Europe, in and across America, from Mexico, Tijuana Gold, Thai stick, Maui, a bunch of other silly names and most of them suck by comparison. Growers are missing something with the new strains. There is something besides just higher THC that makes some strains so much more enjoyable. It’s in Panama Red what ever it is. The Landrace strains are still the best even at half the THC rating, which I don’t entirely trust as accurate. Of course it’s all personal likes for the individuals but to me the worst Pot ever developed is the Sour Diesels and there crossbred strains. I want my flower to taste like Flower, not like Chloroform.

  • And Why do I owe Jack Herer some kind of allegiance? He grew some weed he didn’t cure Cancer. frankly his weed tastes like shit. It works OK, just tastes like shit. I didn’t get overly wasted by my Herer experience at all. Just didn’t like it. I get it he spawned a horticulture Science in developing strains but the one that bears his name. well, they could have done better frankly. I find nothing exceptional about it and hate the taste. Sorry Jack.

  • Gbop

    speak for yourself Dante I’m right up here in Seattle i smoked plenty
    of Jack herer since the 90s also plenty of Jacks Cleaner and I like to say I’ve never smoked no kill like Jack cleaner that I smoke back in 2000 to 2004 2005-2006 right up there with that cat piss lore mediocre growers and young folks that just started smoking weed a few years before Colorado and Washington legalize It are not Aficianados. To keep it real the earthy chemically spicy strains are king phone are the killer strings bro Chem 💪 the stress that smells like berries is always weak. I think you guys got it twisted around and you associate gelato and all the sherbet strains with berries and they’re not nothing to do with no fucking berries okay it’s all about that Afgahn and Hindu Pakistani Old world Kush
    Chem Pre98 Bubba OG Kush Coffee Spicy funk Buddy in that can and that Durban Poison fire the strongest Durban Daga and they’re earthy spicy one hitter quitter. By the way the most fires fruity strains are green crack AKA Cush and anything with pineapple or Gdp the only fire fruity strain of all time is going to be ran Daddy purple and a purple urkle that purple orca Liz would really set the game off before cookies and Cherry pie not forgot about that cherry pie but cherry pie that is one of the most fires fruity strains of all times if you ask me

  • Gear Geak

    The fact that you don’t like the taste or effects of Jack Herer is no basis for a full-length article with the so-called premise of “explaining” why this strain is “over-rated.” Any professional writer who uses their own opinion to base an article that implies factual data is not a professional.

  • TweekTweakXD .

    Its not worship man, there are people who get shit done and even more that can’t. People respect him because of his achievements because you can only achieve what other people aren’t willing to do.

    Look up Jack herer before commenting next time please.

  • Speaking of 9 lb Hammer, I do like that for when I need to sleep. It works great for me for that and that alone. They named it right. I still don’t like, and don’t smoke Herrer. The high is just generic for me and I am not a big fan of the aroma though it smells OK.. Don’t hate it, not a favorite either. I know everyone likes what they like, but there are some here that try to impose their likes on everyone. I say Jack Herrer sucks for me and I don’t smoke it so I agree with this column and it’s writer. Some of the children here seem to have gotten their feelings insulted that their favorite could be describes as lousy by some one else. Grow up. That’s why they make Vanilla, not everyone likes Chocolate. Pots been around for 2500 yrs or so, How long was this Jack Herrer around and when exactly?

  • What’s nonsensical is the notion that Smokers need to be educated on all things marijuana. Bullshit Boys. It must smell good to you. taste good to you, and get you pleasantly high. The smoke should look BLUE and it should not be dry or wet. The strain doesn’t matter beyond that. Some of the best Pot the World has to offer is around 15-18% THC at most. Crossing for higher THC is ruining better pot for commercialism. Look Pot only gets you so high. It won’t matter if you smoke a Quarter or a Pound you only get so high and that’s all the receptors can carry to your brain, you piss the rest straight out.
    As to the arrogant opinion of Mr Falcioni bellow me here I have smoked around the world over years and Your being offended at anyone who would disagree with your cult worship ideology that Herrer is the ultimate Pot all must bend their knee to is absurd. Maybe you should smoke more and read less and form more sustainable opinions. It is an Opinion piece after all.