Hemp activist sparks street market dispute

UPPER LAKE — A showdown on Main Street in Upper Lake was averted on Thursday. But not before some heated words flew, like the proverbial hot lead.

At issue was what Jill Perry, overseer of Upper Lake’s Thursday night Farmer’s Market would allow to be displayed at the booth of best-selling author Jack Herer at Upper Lake’s weekly.

Perry was opposed to the display of a hemp leaf; some, including Perry, would call it a marijuana, or “pot” leaf, and they’d be right since they are one and the same.

The flap over the leaf actually began this past Saturday at Upper Lake’s “Wild West Days,” when Herer’s wife Jeannie was informed by Perry and other event officials that posters of the cover of “High Times” magazine and the hemp/marijuana leaf would not be allowed on Main Street.

When Jeannie Herer was told she could take her booth to a less conspicuous place around the corner, she opted instead to take her booth deposit back and leave.

The action by Perry, who is head of the Upper Lake Community Council and creator of Wild West Days, sparked a reaction from Herer, who was on a three-day lecture tour in Marysville on Saturday.

“They are the most un-American human beings I have ever met. It can only come from people who have no education,” said Herer, who professes to be the world’s greatest expert on the substance.

“The Emperor Wore No Clothes,” professed to be “The No. 1 best-selling hemp book of all times,” has sold more than 700,000 hardback copies and another three million in softcover.

Jack Herer said the book has never been challenged for facts (i.e. hemp was the substance the first Declaration of Independence was written on, the first U.S, flag was made of and material used in the Gutenberg Bible.) “But I have received about 300 letters about my punctuation,” he said.

Neither of the Herers deny using pot. Jack, in fact, has been identified as “the pot guru” and has a doctor’s recommendation to use it for the stroke he suffered two years ago. Jeannie used it to overcome alcoholism.

Perry doesn’t deny she has never read Herer’s book. But she said it makes no difference.

“I admit I haven’t read the book,” she said. “But when they (Herers) put T-shirts or a banner out there that has a pot leaf on it, do you think kids are thinking about rope?

“There is such a controversy over pot or hemp right now. It’s a community thing and I don’t think it’s appropriate. I don’t want the hassle with elderly people about it. I’ve talked to other people about this — the community, board members — I’m not doing this on my own.”

Jeannie Herer said she was almost moved to tears by Saturday’s incident.

“I’m new here. I just moved here in October and have not met my neighbors yet, so I didn’t want to have a fight with these people in the streets,” she said.

When Herer answered yes to Perry’s question if she planned to have a booth at Thursday night’s market, Perry said the same rules would apply.

Perry charged that Jeannie Herer had “falsified” her application for a booth the Saturday event.

“She lied to me about Wild West Days,” Perry said. “She said she would be selling books and junk.’ There was nothing on there about showing pot plants.

“You know Eddy (Lepp) … tried to get (a booth) in Wild West one year. I told him, I don’t want you there because of the children.”

But Perry said she wasn’t sure if anyone involved with the Wild West event ever asked Herer what kinds of books or what kinds of things she would be selling, and therefore was uncertain if Herer had actually told a mistruth.

When a reporter noted that alcohol (margaritas) were sold at Wild West Days and might also be a bad influence for children, Perry responded: “Marijuana is legalized by the state, but not by the federal; alcohol is legalized by everybody.”

Perry warned Thursday afternoon that if the Herers’ booth did not conform to rules she set down at Wild West days she would ask Jeannie to leave.

“… And if she refuses to leave, I’ll have her escorted out,” Perry added. “Unfortunately, that’s my right, but I don’t want to do that to anybody. I told her what I did not want here.”

Two hours later, with the Herers’ booth in place and no signs of “High Times” posters, Perry sat at a table about 100 feet away. She said did not like the T-shirts the Herers were selling with the leaf on the front, “… But they’re discreet enough, small enough,

“As long as she complies.”

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