Charlotte’s Web: How marijuana can save lives

Illustrated by Trevor Moore

To some people, marijuana is just an illegal drug that makes people stupid and lazy.

But for those who use it for medicinal purposes, weed is what saved their life.

A large community of people use marijuana recreationally, and it’s those people who gave weed a bad name.

Many people don’t even know about the good weed does for some people and how it’s helped people in the past. Marijuana is becoming more and more prevalent in our society, and people should know about the good it does.

This is the story about Charlotte’s Web. And no, I’m not talking about the movie.

Before I get into what Charlotte’s Web is, let me tell you about the little girl it was named after.

It was Oct. 18, 2006, when Matt and Paige Figi gave birth to twins, Charlotte and Chase. They were born at 40 weeks and were healthy, normal babies. Three months later, the Figi’s learned that there was something more going on with their daughter.

Matt was changing his daughter when she had her first seizure. The seizure lasted about 30 minutes. When her parents rushed her to the hospital, the doctors couldn’t figure out what it was.

Week after week, the seizures got worse. They were more frequent and usually lasted two to four hours, and Matt and Paige found themselves having to admit their daughter to the hospital regularly.

The doctors kept running tests and checking her blood, but they couldn’t find anything.

At this time, Charlotte was a little over a year old and was taking seven different prescription drugs. They worked for a little while, but the seizures continued. When she finally turned 2, Charlotte’s parents started to see her decline mentally.

When she was 2½, her parents took her to see a professional neurologist who ended up diagnosing her with Dravet Syndrome, a rare and severe form of intractable epilepsy. Two months later, a test came back positive and confirmed the doctor’s diagnosis.

After the confirmation, they took their daughter to a specialist in Chicago, where they recommended putting Charlotte on a special diet that would help suppress her seizures. Though the diet helped, the side effects took a toll.

Charlotte suffered from bone loss. Her immune system was compromised, and she started developing strange habits, such as eating pine cones. After two years on the diet, the seizures kept coming back.

At this point, Charlotte’s parents were willing to try anything.

At this time, many doctors were experimenting with marijuana, and in November 2000, Colorado voters passed Amendment 20 to set up a medical marijuana registry program within the state.

Matt Figi was constantly scouring the Web, looking for anything that would help his daughter. That was when he came across a video of a little boy with Dravet Syndrome who was successfully being treated with cannabis.

He was being treated with a strain of cannabis that was low in THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the compound in marijuana that is psychoactive, and high in cannabidiol, which contains the medicinal properties.

Charlotte had lost the ability to eat, walk and talk. Her parents had signed a do-not-resuscitate order, and the doctors even suggested putting her in a medically induced coma to giver her small body a rest.

With no other options, Charlotte’s parents turned to cannabis. They had gone to a marijuana dispensary and purchased 2 ounces of the strain R4, which was low in THC and high in cannabidiol. They had a friend extract the oil and gave a small dose of it to their daughter.

Usually after an hour, Charlotte would have had three to four seizures. But the crazy thing is, she didn’t. Hours and days went by, and she didn’t have a single seizure.

Her story started going viral and caught the attention of the Stanley Brothers, the state’s largest marijuana growers and dispensary owners. That was when they started crossbreeding different strains of marijuana to create a new strain that was very high in cannabidiol and low in THC. That new strain would soon be named “Charlotte’s Web.”

Charlotte gets two doses of the oil in her food every day. Now 6, she is a thriving young girl, having only two to three seizures a month, and not only walking but also riding a bicycle on her own and talking more and more each day.

Forget about the negative associations of people who abuse marijuana and give it a bad image.

Remember the story of Charlotte, and how marijuana saved her life.

Katherine Feaster can be reached at [email protected] or @katfeaster on Twitter.