Medical Marijuana: The Last Hope for Sick Children
Desperate for help, families take extraordinary steps to help children wracked with seizures.
On a January afternoon at a marijuana farm in a secret location in the Rocky Mountain foothills, Charlotte slumps over her mother's shoulder. Sleepy, yes, but not obviously sick.
It wasn't always this way.
Charlotte suffers from Dravet syndrome, a rare and incurable form of epilepsy that often begins in infancy and can lead to developmental disability and death. By 5, she was wheelchair-bound, fed with a tube, and catatonic from heavy drugs and up to 50 grand mal seizures a day.
Her mother, Paige Figi, was desperate, spending countless hours searching the Internet for some miracle. Two years ago, she thought she may have found it in the report of a father in California who had some success reducing Dravet seizures with marijuana that is high in CBD. She read how pot growers had increased the THC in plants in recent decades. So why couldn't it be bred to be low in THC but high in CBD?
"When you are at the end of the line, when you have intractable epilepsy in a child that's not doing very well, you look into every little teeny tiny thing," says Figi.
Fortunately for her, she lives in Colorado, which has one of the largest medical marijuana industries in the country. And through a friend, she met Joel Stanley.
One of five brothers in the medical marijuana business, Stanley had been experimenting with plants high in CBDs.
"We were breeding for CBD, not specifically for intractable epilepsy, but for auto-immune disorders, its potential cancer-fighting effects," Stanley says. "There are a lot of people who would like to partake in the medicinal benefits of this plant and some of us don't like to get high, like me."
Figi convinced him to grow more of this marijuana with a CBD to THC ratio of 30:1. Then she convinced the state to give a medical marijuana license to a 5-year-old, the youngest ever on the state registry.
After her first dose of oil made from marijuana, Charlotte went seizure-free for a week. Figi was in disbelief.