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Teen Who Fought for Medical Marijuana Use in Colorado Schools Passes Away

Jack Splitt, the Colorado teenager who worked to help pass laws allowing students to use medical marijuana in the state’s schools, died after his first week in high school.

“How many 15-year-olds change the world the way Jack did?” Colorado state Rep. Jonathan Singer asked during his eulogy for Jack Splitt.

The Colorado teen with cerebral palsy, who championed the right for students to use medical cannabis in schools, passed in his home in Lakewood, Colorado, at the age of 15.

Jack just started classes at Wheat Ridge High School the week before and was enjoying being in the classroom with his friends. Jack was a clever and enthusiastic student, garnering immense praise from his teachers. However, he stayed home the morning he died because he wasn’t feeling well, his mother Linn revealed. He passed later that day from complications from his condition.

Jack’s ability to attend school was helped along by “Jack’s Law,” a state law for which the boy and his mother lobbied exhaustively. Jack used medical cannabis treatments to mitigate the symptoms of his cerebral palsy, like severe pain. Jack used a medical marijuana skin patch, similar to a nicotine patch, to alleviate his symptoms while at school.

In February 2015, a school employee discovered the cannabis arm patch and forcibly removed it from Jack’s arm. Jack and his mother Stacy Linn began their drive to bring medical cannabis to Colorado schools the very next day.

U.S. Marijuana Laws

The family labored to pass a law allowing the use of medical cannabis in schools for children like Jack. Although Jack personally couldn’t speak, his written testimony was powerful enough to move lawmakers; as it was read aloud, Jack would scan the committee with silent, pleading eyes.

Rep. Singer told The Cannabist, “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.”

After no Colorado school systems acted to create policies allowing students to use medical marijuana, the family sprung back into action and worked to pass a law forcing the schools to do so. Signed into law by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper this past June, HB 16-1373 or “Jack’s Law” allows parents and caregivers to administer medical marijuana treatments on school grounds, on school buses, and at school sponsored events.

“Jack’s Law” allows school officials to decide where on campus medical cannabis treatments can be delivered, as well as what forms can be administered to students. If a district does not create a policy, there are no restrictions on where the treatment can be delivered.

“Jack had a tough life, but he was a trouper and a very brave young man,” his mother said. “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.”

Learn more about Colorado’s state cannabis laws at our education page.