Since Zak’s birthday is this week, I thought I would let our local medical cannabis community know a little more about him.
I didn’t know Zak Hayes for long. Really, it was just a little over a year, but I’m grateful for that. When we first met at a NM Medical Cannabis Patient Alliance meeting I wondered, “wow, is he as young as he looks?” He was, but with many more years of wisdom than people three or four times his age. Zak was nearly 19 when I met him, and he would pass before his 20th birthday.
You may hear people who knew Zak call him “little fucker” or “cabroncito”. They are showing affection, not malice or disrespect, because he wore those labels proudly. His wit and sarcasm was uncanny, especially for such a young man. He could make a dull situation fun with his clever remarks. But he could also stare you right into oblivion if you got too far out of line.
Zak suffered from Cystic Fibrosis. Children born with this insidious, progressive disease are guaranteed an extremely difficult life. In past decades children with cystic fibrosis rarely made it to school age or puberty. Now, depending on many factors people can live with CF into their 40s or 50s, but that is in no way the norm. Lungs, liver, pancreas and intestinal tract constantly produce mucus making it impossible for these organs to function properly. There is difficulty breathing and digesting. Nutrition is gravely affected because the body can’t draw what it needs from foods. Constant respiratory infections plague the CF patient, as well as painful inflammation of affected organs. It is misery. There is no cure, only treatment of symptoms and the multitude of treatments are quite frequent. Despite all this, Zak persisted. He was a fine example of living life to its fullest and didn’t whine about his condition. He knew what his future held for him, he accepted it, and just kept moving forward in his own brazen style. His worst fear was leaving his little brother behind.
Zak attended school in Los Lunas and at La Cueva HS in Albuquerque, where he participated in ROTC. He also worked for a couple of licensed cannabis producers here in NM, and was an activist and advocate of cannabis medicine. He had finally found the community he craved and would thrive in, and also enjoyed acceptance for his condition and unusual life. Zak was on the Board of Directors at Organtica from the beginning, but passed before he could assume his role at their production facility as head of the Trimming Department. His presence is felt quite often at the facility, and everyone is sure he’s there messing with them when trimming up his namesake strain, Zak Haze, (a cross between Killer Haze and Zak’s favorite Strawberry Cough). And true to Zak form, this strain, developed in his honor, has an unusual quality and added bonus – it contains the mother of all cannabinoids, CBG. This is powerful medicine, folks.
Patients of the NM Medical Cannabis community all benefit from Zak’s experience as a patient. Besides being a strong activist, Zak had a lot to do with how Organtica operates, how they do business, and how they serve patients. He was around for all that planning and he had a strong voice in forming what Organtica is today. Thank you, Zak.
Now you know a little more about Zak, and you can celebrate his amazing life with us this Thursday. It’s his birthday and we all intend on celebrating appropriately. Come one, come all and join us at Organtica for our new holiday, June 22. Wear your Zak Haze t-shirt and/or your Zak Haze lanyard tag and you will receive a special gift. Happy 21st Birthday Zak! We love you and think about you every day!
EDIT! – It looks like Organtica will start celebrating TODAY (Wednesday, June 21) and will continue through the weekend. I guess excitement got the best of us.