Jack Splitt, the boy who fought for reforms to Colorado's policies on medical cannabis use in schools, died on Wednesday.
"Jack's Law" was named after the 15-year-old, who used marijuana to treat his cerebral palsy. Last year, his mother, Stacy Linn, pushed for an amendment to the Medical Marijuana Caregivers bill that gave school districts the authority to allow for the medicinal marijuana on school campuses. But none of them made the necessary changes to their drug policies.
A new law passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor in June forces schools to accommodate students such as Jack.
"A school district or charter school may not discipline a student who holds a valid recommendation for medical marijuana solely because the student requires medical marijuana in a non-smokable form as a reasonable accommodation necessary for the child to attend school," says the bill.
Jack was an inspirational voice for medical marijuana use
State Rep. Jonathan Singer told The Cannabist that Jack got people to understand how marijuana could be used to ease pain and suffering in children with diseases and conditions like cerebral palsy.
“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,” said Singer. “But it’s not a Cheech-and-Chong subject. It’s kids’ lives and their well-being.”
Teri Robnett, founder of Cannabis Patients Alliance, told The Cannabist that “Jack’s Law” would not exist if it weren't for Jack, who became the face of the movement to make the needed reforms.
“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,” said Robnett. “And that’s what Jack did.”
A nationwide struggle for all children
Colorado became the second state to allow children to use medical marijuana at school. The first state to protect the rights of children this way was New Jersey - home to a fiercely prohibitionist governor, Chris Christie.
But last November, Christie signed a law that gives parents and caregivers the right to administer medical marijuana to a a child on a school bus or school property.
The push for this bill began after 16-year-old Genny Barbour, who has autism and severe epilepsy, was told she couldn't consume her mother's homemade cannabis oil on school grounds.
"The ultimate goal was to keep Genny in school the whole day," said Genny's father, Roger. "Now it is clear Lora can come on campus to give her the medicine, and they have to come up with a policy [to allow that]."
Banner photo: Jack Splitt and his mother, Stacy Linn. (Associated Press photo)