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Friday, November 16, 2012

Cash Hyde Succumbs to Cancer, Family Says Medical Marijuana Extended His Life

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge Cash Hyde, 2008-2012 - CASHHYDEFOUNDATION.COM
  • Cash Hyde, 2008-2012

Cash Hyde lived half of his life with a feeding tube surgically attached to his stomach. And about half of his life was spent in hospitals -- including a 49-day coma -- after a diagnosis with brain cancer. It was that cancer which claimed his life Wednesday night; he had beaten it twice, but after two full remissions, its third appearance was too much. He died in his father's arms at the family home in Missoula, Mont.

He was 4 years old.

He was first diagnosed with cancer at 20 months. He learned to walk and speak while terminally ill, and shortly before he died, informed his family that he had had enough. "No more pokes," said Cash, referring to the countless injections, blood drawings and other medical procedures that are a cancer patient's daily routine.

And while it was cancer that killed him, it was a 2011 change in Montana state law that denied him 73 days of access to the medicine that had kept him alive to that point. That

medicine was cannabis, which Mike Hyde administered to his son at the

risk of federal and state prison terms.

Cash's story had made national news, with outlets flying to Missoula to interview the family and film Cash taking his illegal "medicine." By the time of his death, it was estimated that he was Montana's youngest medical marijuana card-holder. Along with chemotherapy and radiation -- as well as brain surgery when he was 2 years old -- cannabis was a key component of his cancer treatment: the medical marijuana helped him sleep and helped him eat, Mike Hyde said. The situation was among the first highly publicized instances of a young child receiving relief from cannabis.

Cash died Wednesday shortly before 10 p.m., according to John Malanca, a Northern California resident who also owns a home in Montana and is authorized to speak on behalf of the Hyde family.

Authorities in Missoula have apologized for police's handling of the death -- apparently police and coroner's officials showed up to the house following a call to the boy's social worker from Mike Hyde, who has since posted on Facebook blasting police's "cocky" and "rude" behavior in "investigating" the boy's death.

But more at fault are the 2011 "revisions" to Montana's medical marijuana laws, Malanca said.

S.B. 423 reduced the amount of plants a qualified patient could possess to four, and the total amount of medicine allowed to 1 ounce. That meant that Mike Hyde was forced to cut down some of the plants he processed into oil and juiced raw to put into smoothies for his son. This, coupled with federal Justice Department raids on Missoula dispensaries, led to the Hydes being without a source of medical marijuana for their son for 73 days, Malanca said.

"It's like our mom giving us half a teaspoon of cough medicine when you're supposed to get a full tablespoon, in order to make it last," Malanca said Thursday.

Cancer-free as of June, Cash began to get sick again in July. It was the same tumor, which had been first found at 4.5 centimeters in length, a stage IV growth.

This time, the tumor "progressed really fast," Malanca said. Cash went trick-or-treating on Halloween for the very first time Oct. 31, dressing up as Buzz Lightyear, but by early this week, Cash seemed tired and out of energy. Then on Wednesday evening, his family posted a request for prayers on Facebook. Later that night, they posted again: "Rest in peace little man!"

The hope is that Cash's suffering and passing will highlight the medical benefits of the marijuana plant, and the absurdity of creating barriers to its access, Malanca said. After all, the plant brought relief to a young child whose only memories were of being terminally ill -- what, exactly, is the harm?

"It extended his life. He had literally beaten cancer two times," Malanca said. "The little boy brought so much love to this world and brought so many people together. He educated people."

Cards can be sent to the Hyde family via United Patients Group, 336 Bon Air Center #361, Greenbrae, CA, 94904. Donations can be made at

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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