After nearly a century of prohibition, people still find ways to villainize cannabis. But the truth of the matter is, as more states begin to legalize both medical and adult-use, more people are benefiting from cannabis’ health properties.
An open discussion is absolutely necessary for changing perspective. And for that reason, we’re going to take a look at a cannabis story that has had life-changing effects on a little girl named Charlotte Figi.
The purpose of this article is to help further these discussions in the hopes of changing the narrative for cannabis.
The Story of Charlotte Figi
One of the most remarkable medical cannabis stories comes from a young toddler named Charlotte Figi. At just 3 months old, she had her first seizure and was prone to having them regularly for the next few months.
Doctors were clueless as to why Charlotte was having such intense seizures. Many figured she would simply grow out of it. Or, if worse came to worse, they’d run some tests for a possible diagnoses of various medical conditions, including the rare and severe Dravet Syndrome.
Interestingly, these seizures didn’t stunt her development. Charlotte managed to begin walking and talking just as any other child would. But these seizures were without a doubt putting a strain on her overall well-being.
Not to mention the toll the handful of medications she was prescribed.
At 2 1/2, Charlotte’s parents began to notice a decline in Charlotte’s cognitive functioning. They also found out she tested positive for Dravet Syndrome.
“I remember to this day it was a relief. Even though it was the worst-case scenario, I felt relief just to know.”Paige Figi, Charlotte’s mother
After numerous doctor visits, medication attempts, and losses to Charlotte’s physical and mental health, the parents felt as though they were at the end of the line.
That was until Matt Figi, Charlotte’s father, was scouring the web, hoping to come across an answer. He discovered a video of a boy from California who had successfully treated Dravet with cannabis. The cannabis strain this boy used was low in THC (the cannabinoid that causes psychoactivity) and high in cannabidiol (CBD).
By the age of 5, Charlotte had lost her ability to talk, walk, and eat, was having over 300 seizures a week, and had a number of instances where her heart stopped.
This was when Paige Figi decided to give medical marijuana a try. It took her some time, but Paige finally found a doctor who was willing to prescribe cannabis as a medication; Dr. Margaret Gedde.
“(Charlotte’s) been close to death so many times, she’s had so much brain damage from seizure activity and likely the pharmaceutical medication. When you put the potential risks of cannabis in context like that, it’s a very easy decision.”Dr. Margaret Gedde
These risks Gedde is discussing are of brain development. Currently, scientists aren’t sure how cannabis consumption at such a young age will affect brain development.
We do know that adolescents who smoke cannabis regularly are at risk for various medical conditions, including depression. And for this reason, using cannabis to treat children even with extreme conditions have been met with much backlash.
It’s important to remember that during this time, CBD wasn’t as widely available as it is today. So much so, Paige had to go to a Denver cannabis dispensary and seek out a marijuana strain called R4 – one of which is low in THC and high in CBD.
After paying close to $800 for 2 ounces (that was all that was available) and having a friend extract some oil, Paige had the oil tested in a lab. When it came back clean, she gave a small dose to Charlotte.
“We were pioneering the whole thing; we were guinea pigging Charlotte. This is a federally illegal substance. I was terrified to be honest with you.”Paige Figi
However, to Paige’s surprise, the results cannabis was showing were beyond her expectations.
After Charlotte didn’t have a seizure for an hour, Paige wasn’t fully convinced and decided to wait another. But they ended up stopping for the following seven days.
Both Paige and Matt couldn’t believe the results. So much so, they knew they needed to get more of this miracle as soon as possible.
So, they met up with one of Colorado’s largest marijuana growers and dispensary owners, the Stanley brothers.
The six brothers were experimenting with a crossbreed strain of marijuana that was high in CBD and low in THC. Unfortunately for them, no one wanted it and they had trouble selling it.
That was until they were introduced to Charlotte.
“The biggest misconception about treating a child like little Charlotte is most people think that we’re getting her high, most people think she’s getting stoned. Charlotte is the most precious little girl in the world to me. I will do anything for her.”Josh Stanley
Through their experience with Charlotte, the brothers began a nonprofit organization known as the Realm of Caring Foundation. The purpose is to provide cannabis treatment to both adults and children struggling with a number of different diseases.
“We give (cannabis) away for next to free. The state won’t allow us to actually give it away, so we give it away for pennies really.”Josh Stanley
Since Charlotte began taking cannabis oil twice a day, her seizure have nearly stopped. She still will get two or three a month, but that’s a huge breakthrough from what she was struggling with prior.
“I literally see Charlotte’s brain making connections that haven’t been made in years. My thought now is, why were we the ones that had to go out and find this cure? This natural cure? How come a doctor didn’t know about this? How come they didn’t make me aware of this?”Matt Figi
CNN Health: Marijuana stops child’s severe seizures