Jack Splitt, a Colorado teen with cerebral palsy, who became well-known for helping pass a law in his state for medicinal use of marijuana in schools, died on Wednesday.
The Denver Post reports that Jack, 15, used medical marijuana to treat pain associated with cerebral palsy. Jack and mother Stacey Linn were the pioneers of what would eventually become “Jack’s Law,” which came about after a school employee ripped a skin patch off the teen’s arm that delivered cannabis medication to him.
After the incident, and with hearty efforts on behalf of Jack and his mother, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a law in June that allows parents and/or caregivers to administer medical marijuana to their child/children at school.
Sadly, he passed away after battling debilitating muscle contractions and other medical issues associated with cerebral palsy. According to Stacy,
“Jack had a tough life, but he was a trooper and a very brave young man. When he smiled at you, it changed your life. I’ve had people tell me that when Jack smiled at them a year ago, they can still remember his smile…He fought hard for children everywhere, there is no doubt, but we’ll also remember his smile.”
Part of their fight to get medical marijuana allowed in school was lobbying numerous times. According to the founder of Cannabis Patients Alliance, Teri Robnett, Jack’s Law wouldn’t have ever come into effect without the fight of Jack and his mom. Robnett said,
“Oftentimes we know that there’s an issue that needs to be addressed, but when you have a sympathetic face that can really bring focus to the issue, you can really do amazing things.”
State Rep. Jonathan Singer added that Jack’s infectious personality and winning attitude also played a big part in getting the law passed. He said the teen changed more people’s views on marijuana legalization that he ever did as a state representative.
“Anyone who knew him knew that he was charming, he was engaging. He changed more minds on the issue of medical marijuana than I think I ever did, and he finally put a human face to what most people perceive as a Cheech-and-Chong subject. But it’s not a Cheech-and-Chong subject. It’s kids’ lives and their well-being.”
Jack started his classes at Wheat Ridge High School on August 15. He was having fun with friends and doing well until mid-week during the school week, when he fell ill. He began experiencing extreme muscle contractions, something that medical marijuana had helped him with immensely; it was the one thing that made him feel better. According to Stacey, pharmaceutical medicines turned him into “a zombie.” But his health took a drastic turn on Wednesday and he stayed home from school. Stacey recalled seeing him in a dream the night before. He pleaded with his family to not be sad.
He was standing tall and in a powerful voice told Cooper (his younger brother), ‘Please do not be sad. I am free.’ ”
Jack died the next day. He’ll always be remembered as the boy who dreamed big and helped pass a state law that will help other children for years to come. For instance, a family friend, Amber Wann, has a 15-year-old son who suffers from epilepsy. Marijuana helps him control his seizures, and thanks to Jack, he’ll be able reduce and prevent seizures during school. Wann recalled how special Jack was and how he captivated people when meeting him.
— MPP Marijuana Policy (@MarijuanaPolicy) August 26, 2016
“At first meeting Jack, it’s his smile that speaks volumes. o talk with him and say hi to him and have him look you in the eye, it was his handshake to you, his way of welcoming you to his world, and as simple as that may seem, it honestly meant the world to have Jack smile at you. It meant the world to us.”
Lawmakers and advocates said that the work Jack did to push the medical marijuana in schools is “nearly unmatched.”