The Nov. 19 funeral for 4-year-old Cash Hyde became a celebration of the high-profile cancer patient's life with hundreds in attendance. But even as the community rallied to say to goodbye, the firestorm that erupted after Cash's death remained.
"I want to tell the Missoula Police Department Drug Task Force that even though they threatened my family...I forgive you," said Mike Hyde, Cash's father, during the ceremony at St. Francis Xavier Church in Missoula.
Cash died on Nov. 14 at home in Missoula after waging a two-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer. He gained fame for being one of the country's youngest medical marijuana patients. His parents gave him cannabis oil to alleviate the nausea and malaise that accompanied his illness. They credit the drug with helping to extend Cash's life.
Cash's family created the nonprofit Cash Hyde Foundation to help other children suffering from cancer. The foundation's visibility, along with Cash's role as a medical marijuana icon, contributed to the furor that erupted after he died.
When Cash passed away last Wednesday, his family called their social worker to share the news. That call triggered a response from Missoula city and county law enforcement. When officers arrived at the family home, according to a post on the Cash Hyde Foundation Facebook page, they informed the family that Cash would be taken from them. "They told us they were taking him and we had to argue with them for 45 minutes that Cashy was staying with us," read the post.
The Facebook post drew hundreds of comments. Some community members surmised that Cash's status as a medical marijuana patient made the family a law enforcement target.
Missoula Police Chief Mark Muir denies that anti-marijuana ideology played into law enforcement's response. Montana law requires police investigate "unattended deaths," or those that occur without medical supervision, he says. Muir adds that after speaking with the family, law enforcement agreed to leave Cash at home with them until the next morning.
"To say that there was any political side to this is really misguided," Muir says. "It's just wrong. Here's a terribly tragic situation."