medical marijuana signThe idea of using marijuana for medicinal purposes has been an unpopular one. Many see medicinal cannabis as only a front for relaxing drug laws to the sole benefit of recreational users. Those people have not met 6 year-old Charlotte Figi.

Charlotte Figi, who lives with her parents Matt and Paige Figi in Colorado, suffers from an extremely rare genetic disorder known as Dravet Syndrome. An uncommon form of epilepsy, the disorder causes repetitive and severe seizures. Her seizures started when she was 3 months old and increased in frequency and strength until it was not abnormal for young Charlotte to have 20-60 seizures a day, an average of about 300 a week.Her parents tried a myriad of treatments including a strict diet, and various medications, but many of her treatment options resulted in harmful side effects. And none had lasting positive results.

After years of having to watch the violence with which this incurable disease attacked their daughter, Charlotte’s parents had very little hope left. Fearing that their daughter’s life would be short and painful, Matt and Paige searched for any treatment that would help give her the opportunity to flourish.

Colorado voters passed an amendment that required the state to create a medical marijuana registry. Only 8 conditions were approved to use medicinal marijuana, but, fortunately for the Figis, chronic seizures was one of them.

Colorado state law requires two physician signatures before allowing a patient to use medicinal cannabis. Because of this, the Figis had to wade through months of rejections before finding two doctors who, after meeting with them and examining Charlotte, approved the treatment.

For 7 days after beginning the treatment Charlotte was seizure free. This was her longest respite in years from the terrible malady. Continuing her treatment, Charlotte has begun to thrive. Though her seizures have not stopped completely the frequency has dropped from around 1,200 a month to just 2 or 3. Things that her condition rendered nearly impossible, like learning to walk, speak, and even ride a bike, have suddenly become more than a hope for her and her family.

Her treatment requires just a few drops of Cannabis oil prepared into her food daily and the strain used, affectionately named Charlotte’s Web by its cultivators, has a very low level of THC.

For the moment, life in the Figi’s house is much calmer. Charlotte though, will always have Dravat and without proper studies and testing there is no way to know if this treatment will be effective long-term. Hopefully the progress she has shown will serve as a reminder of the potential benefits of medicinal marijuana and will garner more active studies into how this plant may help others.

Photo credit: JosephAdams / Foter / CC BY

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