Girl Who Helped Inspire Popular Charlotte’s Web Marijuana Strain Dies
Charlotte Figi, a girl with a rare form of epilepsy whose recovery inspired the name of a medical marijuana oil that drew families of children with similar health problems to Colorado for treatment has died after being hospitalized and treated as a likely coronavirus patient, her mother said Wednesday. Charlotte Figi was 13, reports the Associated Press.
According to the AP, Charlotte, who lived in Colorado Springs, died Tuesday after suffering a seizure that resulted in cardiac arrest and respiratory failure, her mother Paige Figi said in a statement. Charlotte tested negative for the coronavirus when she was initially admitted to a hospital on Friday but was still treated as a likely COVID-19 case when she was returned to the hospital Tuesday after the seizure because her whole family had been sick for a month with suspected coronavirus symptoms, Figi said. Her death was first announced by the group co-founded by Paige Figi, Realm of Caring Foundation, to help other families who uprooted their lives for a chance to use cannabis to treat their children’s seizures before marijuana became more widely legalized in the United States.
Charlotte’s case and the advocacy of her parents played a significant role in drawing attention to the potential that a drug derived from cannabis could be used to treat epilepsy.
“Some journeys are long and bland and others are short and poignant and meant to revolutionize the world. Such was the path chosen by this little girl with a catastrophic form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome,” the announcement said.
The AP notes that at age 5, Charlotte suffered as many as 300 grand mal seizures a week, used a wheelchair, went into repeated cardiac arrest and could barely speak. With doctors out of ideas, Paige Figi began calling medical marijuana shops. Her symptoms largely disappeared after she began taking an oil created using a strain of marijuana with low THC, the drug’s psychoactive compound, but high in the chemical CBD. Federal prohibition of marijuana has limited research into marijuana and individual compounds’ health effects, but Charlotte’s family and hundreds of others shared their own experience using it for seizure disorders.
U.S. health regulators in 2018 approved the first prescription drug made with CBD to treat rare forms of epilepsy in young children.