A law named after a seven-year-old boy who died from a rare bone cancer has been enacted in New Jersey law expanding medical marijuana usage.
On Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law.
The bill is named after Jake Honig, from Howell, whose parents have fought for years for easier access to cannabis to ease pain during illnesses.
It makes a number of changes including increasing the limit that can be dispensed from two ounces to three ounces for 18 months after the law goes into effect.
The measure also boosts a patient’s supply from 90 days to one year and allows for home delivery to patients.
Jake Honig, seven (left and right), from Howell, New Jersey, died in January 2018 after a five-year battle with rare bone cancer For a month, he was in hospice care, during which medical marijuana became his best option to quell his painful symptoms
His parents, Mike and Janet, urged for new laws in New Jersey to expand access to the drug. Pictured: Jake’s celebrate the enacting of ‘Jake’s Law’
‘We are so thankful for the love and support on this very meaningful day!!,’ Jake’s parents, Mike and Janet, wrote on Facebook.
‘Jake Honig’s Law will impact tens of thousands of patients in New Jersey immediately!!…Jake will forever be our inspiration! We are honored to have this law hold his name.’
Jake began his battle with cancer at age two when doctors discovered a malignant brain tumor.
He was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma, a rare cancer that occurs usually in the bones or soft tissue surrounding the bones.
WHAT IS EWING SARCOMA?
Ewing sarcoma is a rare type of cancerous tumor that grows in the bones or the soft tissue around the bones, such as cartilage or the nerves.
It usually affects people ages 10 to 20 and has a high rate of being cured.
Ewing sarcoma affects about 200 children and young adults every year in the US and shows up slightly more often in males.
The most common bones affected are the pelvis, thigh (femur) and shins (tibia).
Pain is the most common symptom of bone cancer, though symptoms will vary depending on the position of the cancer in the body and its size.
Patients diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma are treated at specialist hospitals because the cancer is so rare.
A combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy is commonly used to target the tumor.
The tumor most often begins in the long bones in the pelvis, legs or arms. It is rarely found in the brain.
Symptoms include pain or swelling in the cancerous area, fatigue, fever, and unexplained broken bones.
It affects around 200 children and young adults in the US every year and usually appears between ages 10 and 20.
Jake underwent surgery, 14 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 radiation treatments and had been in remission for three years.
But at his four-year scan in 2017, doctors discovered the cancer had returned.
He had another brain surgery, six rounds of chemotherapy and another 33 radiation treatments to try to kill the cancer.
Before Thanksgiving 2017, a follow-up exam revealed that the cancer was back in his brain and had spread down his spine.
By Christmas, a tumor had developed on his lower back and doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said there was nothing more they could do.
Mike and Janet took Jake home to keep him comfortable – which included providing anti-nausea medication, oxycodone, and medical marijuana when his symptoms got painful.
His parents found that medical marijuana had become Jake’s best option to quell his symptoms because he did not experience the harsh side effects that came with the other drugs.
The cannabis helped keep Jake comfortable before his death, improving his appetite and even allowed him to go off of a few of the harsher medications.
On Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act into law. Pictured: Jake
The new law boosts a patient’s supply to a year, allows for home delivery and permits physician assistants to authorize medical cannabis. Pictured: Jake’s family with Governor Phil Murphy (second from left|
However, Mike and Janet would have to heat up the marijuana each night in order to extract the oils because it was available in oil-form at the time.
Jake died in January 2018, about a month after returning home.
Before Murphy signed the legislation, Mike told an emotional story about Jake enjoying waffle fries and a milkshake while on medical cannabis.
Mike said the morphine and opioids doctors had prescribed had terrible side effects for Jake, including taking away his appetite and making him high.
Medical cannabis, instead, helped his son feel like himself, he said.
It ‘allowed Jake’s personality to shine through cancer,’ Mike Honig said.
The new law lowers the threshold from debilitating illnesses to ‘qualifying’ illnesses to make it easier for health care officials to prescribe the drug.
The illnesses include seizure disorder, intractable skeletal muscular spasticity, post-traumatic stress disorder, glaucoma, cancer, as well as chronic pain and opioid-use disorder.
It also permits physician assistants and advanced practice nurses to authorize medical cannabis. Previously, only doctors could prescribe it.