The push for the legalization of marijuana, even for medical purposes, is one of the top hot-button issues in the United States and has been for years. While the debate continues, the pro-legalization side may have won a major victory in the form of a little girl who was given her life back by a form of the drug.
Charlotte Figi, the young daughter of Matt and Paige Figi of Colorado, was born with a rare form of epilepsy that caused her to have intense seizures starting when she was 3 months old. Dravet Syndrome, as the condition is known, is an extremely rare genetic disorder that causes young children to suffer from intense, repetitive seizures.
The Figi family frantically searched for a treatment, eventually taking the advice of a Dravet specialist and placing Charlotte on a speciality diet designed to control her seizures. While it initially worked, it caused a series of harmful side effects such as bone loss, and ceased to work after two years.
Just as the Figis were out of options and terrified for their daughter’s life, Colorado voters approved an amendment that required the state to set up a medical marijuana registry. The drug was approved for the treatment of only 8 conditions, one of which was chronic seizures. Charlotte’s father did extensive research and found other cases where Dravet was being treated with cannabis with success.
After months of hearing no from doctors, the Figis were finally able to find two who signed off on the treatment after meeting with the family and examining Charlotte (Colorado state laws require the two signatures).
Once they began the treatment Charlotte did not suffer a seizure for 7 days, when she had been suffering up to 300 a week (that is not a typo). The Figis continued the treatment with some help from sympathetic dispensary owners and Charlotte began to flourish, learning not only to walk, but also how to ride a bike and speak, although that is still a work in progress.
Many people probably view the treatment merely as getting a child high. Those people could not be more off base in their assumptions. Charlotte is treated with two drops of cannabis oil in her food per day, and the strain being used has an extremely low THC content.
While Charlotte’s treatment may not work for every case of Dravet or similar conditions, the reward far outweighs the risk. Matt Figi, in response to the treatment’s effectiveness, asked “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?”
Well Matt, now the world will know.