LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
Dear TAPinto Readers:
Our son Jake was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012. Learning that your son has brain cancer is just about the worst thing you can hear. For years, Jake underwent treatments including surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. What was so impressive about Jake was how, despite these brutal treatments, he found something to smile about every day.
During Jake’s treatments he was part of New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana program for nine months. Throughout that time, while medicated, Jake went to school, excelled in sports, and played video games. The medical cannabis allowed for Jake’s personality to shine through his cancer in a way that any pain killer we gave him did not.
Eventually a time came when the cancer became too much and we brought Jake home knowing he was near the end. We were released with what seemed like a gallon of morphine and more painkillers than any household could ever need. These opioids did little to nothing except cause more suffering from the side effects. He would scratch his chest to the point of bleeding; he couldn’t eat or drink. This is when we decided to increase his dosage of medical marijuana.
Without fail, twenty minutes after we administered it, he was himself again.
A week before Jake passed away, the only medication he was taking was marijuana. We will never forget, in the last week of his life, seeing our son laugh while watching a movie with our family and dipping his waffle fries into a frosty. This family memory is one we will hold onto, forever.
Jake passed away January 21st, 2018. After he passed, we knew our mission was to continue Jake’s fight. First, we started the ‘be like jake’ Movement to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer. The other way that we are continuing Jake’s fight is to raise awareness for medical marijuana.
As parents of a child in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program, our biggest obstacle was actually running out of medicine—something no parent should ever have to endure. When we would run low or completely run out, we had to substitute in the morphine and other medications. Not once were the painkillers as efficacious as medical marijuana. In fact, the side effects completely outweighed any benefit it was providing.
We stood at Governor Murphy’s side when he signed into law several changes that expand patient access to medical marijuana—extending the authorization period, allowing edible forms, phasing out the sales tax—but what is so special and nearest to our hearts is the elimination of any limit for terminally ill patients, like Jake.
Sick children go through everything that is asked of them. Surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy. When it comes to the time you can no longer save your child’s life, and all you can do is keep him or her comfortable, you should be able to do that as a parent. Now terminally ill children can receive unlimited medication to remain comfortable as they end their life. Not only does this allow for comfort, but it allows for quality time with family and friends.
Advocates have waited for this, caregivers have waited for this, parents have waited for this, but most importantly: patients have waited for this. New Jersey now has one of the strongest medical marijuana programs in the country.
Thank you to every single individual who has walked with us through this journey, thank you to Governor Murphy for leading on this issue, thank you to the legislators who advocated for us, and thank you to the public for listening to us and for being open minded enough to better understand how marijuana is medicine.
Mike Honig (Jake's Dad)