- Charlotte Figi, the Colorado girl with epilepsy who helped ignite a medical-cannabis movement that changed laws around the world, died at 13 from complications suspected to be coronavirus-related, according to an announcement on Tuesday.
- Charlotte and her parents worked with owners of a medical-marijuana dispensary to create a strain with a high amount of CBD.
- CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound found in cannabis.
- The strain, dubbed Charlotte’s Web, proved successful in treating Charlotte’s debilitating seizures, and her story became a turning point in the medical-cannabis movement.
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Charlotte Figi, the 13-year-old girl with epilepsy who helped ignite a medical-cannabis movement, has died from complications suspected to be coronavirus-related, according to a Tuesday Facebook announcement. She would be the youngest Colorado resident to die from COVID-19 if officials confirm the cause, The Colorado Sun reported.
On her Facebook page, Charlotte’s mother, Paige, wrote that despite a previous negative coronavirus test, her daughter was “treated as a likely COVID-19 case.”
Charlotte, her parents, and the Stanley brothers, who own a Colorado Springs medical-marijuana dispensary, worked together to create a cannabis strain that contained a high concentration of CBD, a nonpsychoactive compound found in cannabis, and a low concentration of the psychoactive component THC.
Charlotte successfully used this strain, dubbed Charlotte’s Web, to treat her seizures, and soon other people with chronic conditions got wind of her story and sought CBD treatments themselves.
“She was a light that lit the world. She was a little girl who carried us all on her small shoulders,” the Stanley brothers wrote in a tribute on the Charlotte’s Web website. “She grew, cultivated by a community, protected by love, demanding that the world witness her suffering so that they might find a solution. She rose every day, awakening others with her courage, and with that smile that infected your spirit at the cellular level.”
A family friend announced the news of Charlotte’s death on her mother’s Facebook page on Tuesday.
“Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love. Please respect their privacy at this time,” Nichole, the family friend, wrote.
In the week’s prior, Charlotte’s mother said her entire family was feeling ill but that they were unable to get coronavirus tests.
Charlotte’s story shed light on the therapeutic uses of cannabis
Charlotte had Dravet syndrome, a type of epilepsy, and from the time she was just 3 months old, she experienced hundreds of seizures every day, according to The Colorado Sun.
By the time Charlotte was 5, she couldn’t walk or talk and needed a feeding tube. When traditional epilepsy treatments and medications failed to help Charlotte, her parents sought alternative options and learned about the therapeutic properties of CBD. Soon after, the Figis met the Stanley brothers, the newspaper said.
—Charlotte’s Web (@charlottesweb) April 8, 2020
The Stanley brothers named the strain Charlotte’s Web after Charlotte, and it proved successful in reducing Charlotte’s seizures. Eventually, Charlotte was able to walk and talk again. Her mother weaned her off pharmaceutical treatments, and she no longer needed a feeding tube.
Charlotte’s story became the subject of medical literature and ignited a medical-cannabis movement of patients seeking CBD to treat their chronic conditions. Her story was also the focus of “Weed,” a documentary by CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
In June 2018, Epidiolex became the first drug containing CBD to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration to treat seizures, and the compound is the drug’s main active ingredient. Forty-seven states allow the sale of CBD products, and Charlotte’s Web remains one of the most used CBD products, according to the Charlotte’s Web site.
Now the medical-cannabis community and followers of Charlotte’s story are mourning her loss while remembering the ways she forever changed the cannabis industry.
Realm of Caring Foundation, an organization cofounded by Charlotte’s mother, shared a Facebook tribute to Charlotte on April 8.
“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 post said. “Thank you, Charlotte, for dedicating your life to the service of a greater good. We promise to carry on the mission.”