Remembering Jack Splitt: MMJ Jack's Law Namesake Loses Fight for Life

Update: Back in June, Jack Splitt was at the center of a joyous scene.

As seen in our previous coverage below, he was alongsisde his mom, Stacey Linn, the executive director of the CannAbility Foundation, as Governor John Hickenlooper, a seat away, signed a bill allowing young medical marijuana patients like him to take their cannabis-based medication at school — something that had previously been forbidden. The resulting legislation became known as Jack's Law.

Just over two months later, that triumph has turned into tragedy. Jack, who suffered from cerebral palsy, has died at the age of fifteen.

Jack's family issued a statement about his passing that's featured on a GoFundMe page created to help with expenses in the wake of his death.

The statement reads in part:
It is with great sadness that the family of 15-year-old Jack Splitt announced his sudden passing on Wednesday, August 24, 2016. Jack was a bright, warm, vivacious spirit. He dealt with the challenges of severe cerebral palsy and severe dystonia with grace, a sense of humor and an infectious smile. Jack inspired all who knew him and he was the face of multiple Colorado legislative initiatives to allow medically fragile children to have safe access to cannabis medicine, particularly in schools. He is also the inspiration behind CannAbility Foundation, which was established to provide resources to families with sick children whose conditions are alleviated by whole plant cannabis medicine. He will be warmly remembered for his charming smile, his sense of humor and his thirst for learning.

Jack's family members ask for privacy as they grieve over this painful loss.

Jack is survived by his mother Stacey Linn, father Colby Splitt, his brother Cooper, grandparents Judy Linn and Mike Holtby, Carl and Corrine Splitt, great grandmother Mickey Swan, aunts, uncles and cousins.
At this writing, more than $8,000 has been pledged on the page toward a goal of $10,000. Click for more information.

Also posting about Jack's death was Sebastien Cotte, a boardmember with the Flowering Hope Foundation, an organization we introduced you to in "Charlotte's Web: Untangling One of Colorado's Biggest Cannabis Success Stories," a December 2014 feature article by Joel Warner. Flowering Hope is a nonprofit organization that provides high-CBD oils to child MMJ patients.

Cotte shared this photo....

...and the following text:
This is the kind of post I hate to write. This is so heartbreaking.

As some of you already know Stacey' son Jack passed away....

Jack was the inspiration for Jack's Law, which allow some kids in Colorado to be able to use their cannabis at school.

This will forever be Jack 's legacy. Jack has made Colorado a better place and we will also remember him and his generosity.

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to hang out with Jack in Colorado.

Toward the end of the day after most people left , Jason, Stacey , Jack and a couple other people went to check out Jason's lab, and you should have seen Jack' smile when he saw the lab. It was amazing and a very special moment I will never forget (the pic was taken at that time).

Jack had a rough life due to this disease, but he had one of the best smile I ever seen in life. He had a smile that could brighten any rooms and just make your heart happy and forget your troubles!

Jack was a true inspiration for so many of us.

We love you buddy and will never forget you....
Continue for our previous coverage, about the signing of Jack's Law.

Original post, 4:20 p.m. June 7: In April, we told you about Meagan Patrick, whose pre-school-age daughter, Addelyn, is an epilepsy sufferer who's made huge strides since she began using medical cannabis treatments.

However, Addelyn's public preschool didn't allow MMJ to be administered — though liquid Valium is okay.

House Bill 16-1373, co-sponsored by Representative Jonathan Singer, was created to address this issue. And while the measure faced some powerful opposition, it passed both houses of Colorado's general assembly — and yesterday, Governor John Hickenlooper signed it into law.

This turn of events delighted Stacey Linn, executive director of the CannAbility Foundation, which "was founded to provide support, resources, education and access to cannabis for parents of kids living with an illness or disability," according to its Facebook page.

After Hickenlooper affixed his signature to the legislation while surrounded by what she calls "cannakids," Linn, whose son, Jack Splitt, is the namesake of what's popularly known as Jack's Law, posted the photos that appear in this post along with a note that reads in part, "I am beyond grateful and so happy that OUR KIDS CAN HAVE THEIR LIFE-SAVING MEDICINE AND GO TO SCHOOL! No more fear!!!! YES!!!"

We've included the complete text of House Bill 16-1373 below, but here's its summary:
Under current law, a student with a medical marijuana recommendation is not permitted to use medical marijuana on school grounds, on a school bus, or at a school activity unless the district has adopted a policy permitting the use. The bill allows a student to use medical marijuana on school grounds, on a school bus, or at a school activity and requires each school district to adopt a policy allowing the medical marijuana use. If the department of education or a public school loses any federal funding as a result of adopting the policy, the general assembly shall appropriate state money sufficient to offset the loss of federal money.
As we reported in April, Singer spoke in favor of the bill at its first major committee hearing, as did a slew of parents, including Patrick.

But the bill was opposed by the Colorado Association of School Boards.

During her testimony, Kathleen Sullivan, an attorney for the CASB, stressed that marijuana remains against federal law — and for that reason, schools feared they might lose federal funding, $433 million worth of which is distributed in Colorado.

This argument was weakened by the experience of New Jersey, the only other state with a similar law at the time Singer proposed his version. That state hasn't been hit with a massive loss of federal funds as a result of this rule due to the policies of the Obama administration.

Things could change under the next president, who might find it contradictory to require school nurses to report student use of drugs, including pot, even as they administer medical marijuana to authorized patients.

However, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic candidates, have both said they would respect Colorado's marijuana laws — and while GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has discussed what he's called "big problems" with Colorado's recreational marijuana industry, he's been consistent in his support for medical marijuana.

This combination of factors no doubt helped the bill pass that first committee, followed by the Colorado House and Senate — and Hickenlooper has now made it state law.

Look below to see a KKTV report about the bill's signing, followed by the original legislation.

House Bill 16-1373

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts