How the Charlotte’s Web strain changed the medical marijuana industry

Charlotte’s Web is perhaps the most famous CBD-dominant medical marijuana strain on the market today. Often used to treat serious illnesses such as Dravet syndrome, an unusual, severe type of epilepsy, Charlotte’s Web takes its name from young Charlotte Figi, whose CBD story was memorably told on primetime CNN in 2013 as part of the documentary Weed. Who would ever have imagined that the game-changing argument for medical marijuana would be its potential to help children?

Charlotte Figi’s story

Little Charlotte has suffered from seizures since the age of three months. The seizures were a complete shock, especially when they continued since Charlotte had not been diagnosed with a condition. But after the seizures continued, lasting anywhere between 30 minutes and four hours at a time, doctors finally confirmed that Charlotte had treatment-resistant Dravet syndrome. While several medications were tried, the seizures only became worse, with Charlotte eventually ending up on seven strong – but largely ineffective – meds at once.

However, Paige and Matt Figi, Charlotte’s mom and dad came across a story of another boy with Dravet syndrome that was being administered medication derived from CBD-dominant marijuana. Unlike most cannabis, the strain used for this natural alternative contains minute levels of THC, and therefore doesn’t come with psychoactive side effects.

Charlotte’s Web specifics

The strain in question would finally be named Charlotte’s Web. The low THC levels make it safe to consume in larger quantities, and the high CBD concentrations just amplify the therapeutic possibilities of Charlotte’s Web. When medical marijuana was first proposed by activists, strain makeup was vastly different, with the focus primarily on THC as scientists had almost disregard, before reassessing in the 1990s after new evidence came to light.

Charlotte’s parents were prepared to try CBD oil, with their daughter confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak much of the time and suffering from more than 300 dangerous seizures per week. But after just a tiny, experimental dose of CBD oil derived from the CBD-heavy R4 strain, Charlotte’s seizures disappeared for one week and have become less and less common with consistent use of the oil.

The Stanley Brothers’ revolutionary strain

The Stanley Brothers had been cultivating a unique strain by crossbreeding industrial hemp and regular marijuana to produce a high-CBD, low-THC combo. However, they originally had little success in selling the strain, since the low-THC content made it useless to recreational users – it was even referred to as the “Hippie’s Disappointment.”

But the Figis were attracted to the low THC levels in the strain, as this made it safer for their daughter to take. Furthermore, Charlotte’s parents were unable to afford the high costs of other strains, but the Realm of Caring Foundation established by the Stanley brothers ensured they didn’t need to. The program allows anybody with life-threatening conditions to access the medical marijuana products that could make the difference.

Charlotte’s Web CBD oil has made a huge difference to young Charlotte’s life. She is able to walk again, eat and her ability to speak is gradually being restored. Seizures have reduced to just two or three per month with the majority of these occuring during sleep.

CNN’s documentary has had a much wider impact. Patients and families in states where marijuana or not even CBD is permitted have moved to legalized states, including Colorado, to access the alternative, all-natural medication. For Charlotte’s Web specifically, Colorado remains a hub, but there are now many CBD-dominant strains on sale, making matters somewhat easier for those in need.

Classed as a hemp-based food product for having THC levels below 0.3 percent, Charlotte’s Web is a superb epilepsy treatment, but has also been used for multiple sclerosis, chronic pain relief, as a substitute for anti-anxiety drugs and anti-depressants and plenty more.

Scientists and researchers are yet to produce any official analysis on the ability of marijuana – and specifically CBD – to treat epileptic conditions like Dravet syndrome, but the wealth of anecdotal evidence has been enough for many families. They have heard the stories of Charlotte Figi and others, and are moving in their droves to Colorado, California and other marijuana-friendly states with the goal of transforming their child’s quality of life.

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