Dan Herer, son of the legendary Jack, is not so much following in his father’s footsteps as forging his own path in the modern field of hemp and cannabis that his family helped create. Sensi Seeds had the pleasure of interviewing him on a recent visit to Amsterdam. Learn more about the man bringing the next generation of cannabis pioneers together.
The video above this article shows the exclusive interview that Dan Herer gave to Sensi Seeds in Amsterdam in July 2016. It was filmed in Hempstory, adjacent to the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, and conducted by Scarlet Palmer. We hope you enjoy it, be sure to give us your feedback in the comments section!
Scarlet: Hello Dan, thank you for coming and talking to us.
Dan: That’s my pleasure.
S: Can you tell us a little about why you are in Amsterdam right now? What are you up to?
D: I’m looking to expand my relationship with HempFlax and Sensi family. We’ve had some discussion back in the US [the Sensi Seeds CEOs recently visited the US – Ed.] and I’ve been trying to engage them for a little while; and this is the opportunity that came up. I made a very impromptu trip here and showed up on the door with just a few hours’ notice.
S: Do you have a book, or a film, or a project on the go that you wanted to talk a little bit about?
D: Well, I’m not a writer like my father so no, on the book side. On other things, with a good friend of mine I’ve helped to write a script on my father’s life which chronicles from him being a father to him being this sort of icon-ish presence. And other than that, I’ve looked to start a company in the US that reflects the views and values that have sort of become our family, in a sense. I wanted just to share them with the Dronkers family and see if we can create yet another meshing of thoughts and ideas and see where that might go.
S: So you’re taking it to the next generation.
D: Yes, because I’m not the warrior my father was, but I have a lot of ideas that I believe would be beneficial and something that he would be proud of. Before it was about raising the people up and having them rise up, and now it’s gotten more – but not completely – all diplomatic. Now things are legitimizing across the world. In virtually every continent there are legitimate hemp businesses, and what are becoming legitimate cannabis businesses. It’s no longer just this black market or this grey market, it’s actually becoming a real recognized industry.
There are parts of the industry that have taken hold, like HempFlax and what they’ve done, but it’s going to take a little bit more time to have international trade, international banking. There are things that are holding it back from really becoming something special and new, not just in an area but on a global scale, as an economy that could reach every country and every person on this planet with regards to health benefits or ecological benefits. There’s just so much to be done and it’s a really exciting time.
S: What’s the biggest change you’d like to see in the next five years, if you had to name one thing?
D: One thing that I think is still most important, which was probably the nearest and dearest to my father’s heart, is that even though we’ve had great success with businesses and expansion of economic development, all of that is still based on fear from governments. They talk about needing a lack of THC, instead of saying “ok, we were wrong”. It’s time for governments to say they understand that THC and CBD, this plant as a whole, is beneficial. This plant is globally necessary as a whole. And we have to get back to the education side of things, and have people understand that it’s not about a molecule in the plant, it’s about the whole plant. Stop the fear-mongering and the deception and the lies that are creating the laws restricting what’s happening.
Inform these people. Get them to admit that they’ve been doing this to protect other existing industries that are going to be changed. Not necessarily harmed, because they’re going to have the opportunity to come into this as well. They don’t have to worry about losing their livelihood, or their profits for their shareholders, in order to introduce this natural plant. They can expand and change their own business models to incorporate this, and grant us the ability to change what’s happening on a global level with regards to economic and ecological evolution.
Misinformation is spread by the government because they want to be able to control cannabis. If they can continue these lies that people need to be protected from the THC side of things, then they have a way to create a bureaucracy in order to achieve that.
I’m not against control itself. Control products that are made for human consumption in a retail market. But it shouldn’t be controlled for your own personal growth and development at your home. If somebody wants to make a company that provides products and services to the public, then that should be controlled. You should have a clean product that’s not filled with pesticides or heavy metals or things like this.
It’s not legalization that we’re looking for, it’s the freedom to be able to use this plant. Wilful ignorance is no longer an accepted view for me. When all of the information is out there but people are still wilfully ignoring the facts, I believe it becomes a criminal act at that point, because now there’s intent to do harm. There’s intent to defraud. There’s intent to distract from what really can be done. People continue to mislead, lie, and create an air of fear that keeps this plant generally one that is not taught in schools. With regard to what it really is and what it’s really been part of, how it’s been a part of every civilization that has developed around the world on one level or another. We wouldn’t have worldwide economic development without the hemp plant that created the sails. That was the original engine. It wasn’t a diesel engine, it wasn’t a gas engine, the engine was hemp sails. Without hemp we wouldn’t have had international trade. We wouldn’t have had our clothing. These things need to be taught, not removed from our history. They need to be embraced.
S: If you had not been a hemp warrior, for want of a better phrase, what would you be doing? I read an interview with you in a magazine where you said that in the 1990s you’d gone to pursue some personal projects…
D: Well, I think I didn’t really have much of a choice from the time I was 10 or 12 years old, through my adolescence, because this has always been a part of what’s been around my family. So for me, it got to a point where I was no longer feeling like my father’s son, I was feeling like my father’s employee. At about 30, 32 years old, I said “Dad, you are the Hemperor, and that’s your world, and I’ve been happy to be a part of it, and I love it; but I’m going to go this way, and when you come to town, just be my dad. I’ll be your son”. That worked out a lot better for me, for both of us, because we got to enjoy each other’s company when we saw each other. Not, “This needs to be done and that needs to be done”.
S: So your relationship deepened.
D: Yes, it was much better, and I went into my own path in business, with regards to design and building and creating products. I got into mobile electronics, I got into construction, and home design. And after he died I had this great need to come back.
S: Did you visit Amsterdam with your dad?
D: No, I never did. He started coming here after I stepped away from the hemp movement. My younger brother and sisters started spending time with him travelling. As a young adult I didn’t have that opportunity. So now I’m trying to figure out the relationships that he had over the years that I was absent. As I’ve come back to the hemp movement, I’ve had many people come up and tell me their stories of their relationships with my father, and it’s really warming for me to hear all of these stories of inspiration and camaraderie. But I didn’t understand the level of their relationships, and I didn’t understand the level of my father’s relationship with Ben; and I’ve been sort of exploring what that was, so I have a better understanding of who my father was. And who the people that he surrounded himself with and whom he trusted are, and whom he could rely on to help broaden the appeal of this plant and its purpose. And it’s brought me a great deal of… I would say healing, in a sense, from his passing. I get to feel a lot of love from different people in different areas of the world that he’s helped impact, and for me it’s really quite humbling.
S: How do you feel about having one of the world’s most famous and most awarded cannabis strains named after your dad? Have you ever grown it, or smoked it? Does it seem slightly surreal?
D: It doesn’t seem surreal. In a sense it almost seems normal, because everything about my life for the most part has been abnormal. I’ve smoked the strain on a couple of occasions, more in a ceremonial way because I pretty much stopped engaging in smoking cannabis about 30 years ago. Which was to my dad’s great dismay. He was very upset when I decided not to smoke anymore, and I remember specifically him saying “Where did I go wrong?”
I remember specifically him saying “Where did I go wrong?
S: That’s such a reversal of most parent / child situations.
D: Yeah, his response was “I thought I raised you better than that! Don’t you know that you’ll live longer and you’ll be healthier if you smoke this plant?” Really quite a shift from most people’s experience. But I do use. I juice my plants. I don’t juice the trimmings, I juice the flowers. I put them through a compression juicer. Mixed with some good organic fruit juices, it is a wonderful thing. We’ve had some flowers test out as sweet as a Fuji apple. There’s still a bitter herb taste but your body also senses the sugar within the plant, and it’s quite remarkable.
As far as the recognition of my father’s name… there’s a real sense of honour for me, for the whole family. But at the same time, it’s a double edged sword. Because while many people are able to make a living selling a product named after my father – there’s a lot of people that grow, and sell it – the family benefits are absolutely zero. Without my father and people like my father, the foundation of the companies and the businesses that they are running would not exist. I hope I can be a part of a new era in the recognition of the plant as it becomes globally acceptable – the plant itself, not necessarily the name – but as it becomes a true, recognized, respectable business that is no longer black market, I’m hoping that I can help turn around how my family and my father’s estate is taken care of by this plant.
S: Is there a question that you wish people would ask you, that you don’t get asked?
D: Honestly, I’m not an “at the forefront” kind of person, so I would almost expect no questions to be asked! Most of the time when people meet me they say “Oh, you’re the son of Jack”. They’re almost expecting Jack to be there. And those are shoes that I will never even try to step into. The things I’m doing are much more behind the scenes because it’s more of who I am. I’m not looking to shake the ground with my voice or my actions at an event. I’d rather make those changes quietly and permanently behind the scenes, where I’m helping to develop what will be a more global, recognized industry. With what Ben has done here in Holland and what has now been started in Romania, I have great hope that I can persuade Sensi Seeds to become part of a company I have helped to start in the US, and bring Ben’s technology to the US, merge it with new technology and create something truly special. Not that HempFlax isn’t, it’s absolutely remarkable, but there’s another level that we can move to. There’s a great deal more that can be done because we have more technology. We have really incredible people creating brilliant products, brilliant processes, that fundamentally change how we can live on this planet. Being involved in that side of things is where I find my greatest enjoyment.
The possibilities are truly becoming endless. It’s just, will we be allowed to exercise those possibilities? I still have reservations with regard to corporations and governments trying to, in a sense, steal this plant from humanity. They’ve already erased this plant’s history from humanity, and now that they can’t erase it any more, they’re going to seek to control it. And that is the scariest thing about the future, is will we be able to get them to come off of that position and think about humankind, instead of corporations.
S: Your father very famously said “Hemp can save the planet”.
D: Yeah, I believe that it could, we just have to allow it to. I hope I can open up doors for Sensi Seeds where they’ve helped to open up doors for so many others. I’m hoping that there can be a new generation, a way to work together that will transcend what my father and Ben originally started.
S: Dan Herer, thank you very much.
Although extremely busy, Dan Herer kindly agreed to talk with Sensi Seeds again next time he’s in Amsterdam. Stay tuned for updates on his exciting projects, and let us know in the comments section below what questions you would like him to answer!