Weed saved child suffering constant seizures

By the time she was 3, Charlotte was having up to 300 grand mal seizures every week. Eventually she lost the ability to walk, talk and eat.

By the time she was 3, Charlotte was having up to 300 grand mal seizures every week. Eventually she lost the ability to walk, talk and eat.

We have been discussing the legalisation of cannabis on the blog for a couple of weeks now, and readers are sending through interesting articles to share. These aren’t the bat-shit crazy, weirdo stoner set either that we are looking at, just sensible people dealing with the debate in sensible and rational ways.

Take the case featured on CNN of Charlotte Figi, a 3 month old who started having uncontrollable seizures that baffled medical experts.By the time she was 3, Charlotte was having up to 300 grand mal seizures every week. Eventually she lost the ability to walk, talk and eat…until cannabis.

In November 2000, Colorado voters approved Amendment 20, which required the state to set up a medical marijuana registry program.

There are eight medical conditions for which patients can use cannabis — cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, muscle spasms, seizures, severe pain, severe nausea and cachexia or dramatic weight loss and muscle atrophy.

The average patient in the program is 42 years old. There are 39 patients under the age of 18.

Paige [the mother] had consistently voted against marijuana use. That was before Dravet Syndrome entered their lives.

Matt, now a military contractor spending six months a year overseas, used his spare time scouring the Internet looking for anything that would help his little girl.

He found a video online of a California boy whose Dravet was being successfully treated with cannabis. The strain was low in tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound in marijuana that’s psychoactive. It was also high in cannabidiol, or CBD, which has medicinal properties but no psychoactivity. Scientists think the CBD quiets the excessive electrical and chemical activity in the brain that causes seizures. It had worked in this boy; his parents saw a major reduction in the boy’s seizures. 

At age 5 after medical professionals could do more the Figi’s were faced with very few options for their daughter who was by now having more than 300 grand mal seizures a week.

She was 5 when the Figis learned there was nothing more the hospital could do.

That’s when Paige decided to try medical marijuana. But finding two doctors to sign off on a medical marijuana card for Charlotte was no easy feat. She was the youngest patient in the state ever to apply.

Scientists don’t fully understand the long-term effects early marijuana use may have on children. Studies that show negative effects, such as diminished lung function or increased risk of a heart attack, are primarily done on adult marijuana smokers. But Charlotte wouldn’t be smoking the stuff.

Childhood is also a delicate time in brain development. Preliminary research shows that early onset marijuana smokers are slower at tasks, have lower IQs later in life, have a higher risk of stroke and increased incidence of psychotic disorders, leaving some scientists concerned.

“Everyone said no, no, no, no, no, and I kept calling and calling,” Paige said.

As a parent I can certainly empathise with the Figi’s but consider the agony of what they were facing.

“(Charlotte’s) been close to death so many times, she’s had so much brain damage from seizure activity and likely the pharmaceutical medication,” Gedde said. “When you put the potential risks of the cannabis in context like that, it’s a very easy decision.”

The second doctor to sign on was Alan Shackelford, a Harvard-trained physician who had a number of medical marijuana patients in his care. He wasn’t familiar with Dravet and because of Charlotte’s age had serious reservations.

“(But) they had exhausted all of her treatment options,” Shackelfordsaid. “There really weren’t any steps they could take beyond what they had done. Everything had been tried — except cannabis.”

The last resort…

The marijuana strain Charlotte and 41 other people use to help their symptoms has been named after her. It's called Charlotte's Web.

The marijuana strain Charlotte and 41 other people use to help their symptoms has been named after her. It’s called Charlotte’s Web.

Paige found a Denver dispensary that had a small amount of a type of marijuana called R4, said to be low in THC and high in CBD. She paid about $800 for 2 ounces — all that was available — and had a friend extract the oil.

She had the oil tested at a lab and started Charlotte out on a small dose.

“We were pioneering the whole thing; we were guinea pigging Charlotte,” Paige said. “This is a federally illegal substance. I was terrified to be honest with you.”

But the results were stunning.

“When she didn’t have those three, four seizures that first hour, that was the first sign,” Paige recalled. “And I thought well, ‘Let’s go another hour, this has got to be a fluke.’ ”

The seizures stopped for another hour. And for the following seven days.

Paige said she couldn’t believe it. Neither could Matt. But their supply was running out.

Amazing results.

Today, Charlotte is thriving. Her seizures are down to 2 to 3 per month, almost solely in her sleep. She is walking, can feed herself and is talking more and more each day, her parents say.

Today, Charlotte is thriving. Her seizures are down to 2 to 3 per month, almost solely in her sleep. She is walking, can feed herself and is talking more and more each day, her parents say.

Charlotte gets a dose of the cannabis oil twice a day in her food.

Gedde found three to four milligrams of oil per pound of the girl’s body weight stopped the seizures.

Today, Charlotte, 6, is thriving. Her seizures only happen two to three times per month, almost solely in her sleep. Not only is she walking, she can ride her bicycle. She feeds herself and is talking more and more each day.

“I literally see Charlotte’s brain making connections that haven’t been made in years,” Matt said. “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?”

The marijuana strain Charlotte and now 41 other patients use to ease painful symptoms of diseases such as epilepsy and cancer has been named after the little girl who is getting her life back one day at a time.

It’s called Charlotte’s Web.

Astonishing results…after all other conventional medicine failed cannabis worked. Tell me again why cannabis is illegal?

“I didn’t hear her laugh for six months,” Paige said. “I didn’t hear her voice at all, just her crying. I can’t imagine that I would be watching her making these gains that she’s making, doing the things that she’s doing (without the medical marijuana). I don’t take it for granted. Every day is a blessing.”

Matt added, “I want to scream it from the rooftops. I want other people, other parents, to know that this is a viable option.”


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

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