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6-year-old Colorado girl in national spotlight over medical marijuana

DENVER — She’s six years old, and she uses marijuana every day.

Charlotte Figi suffers from a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. She’s endured violent seizures since she was a newborn. Most weeks, she’d have about 300 seizures a week.

After countless emergency room visits, trips to specialists and children’s hospitals, and more than a dozen pharmaceuticals, nothing worked.

Then, a year-and-a-half ago, as a last resort, her mom tried cannabis oil. The medical marijuana worked immediately.

“It’s potent, it’s strong, it’s spicy, it’s got some kick,” her mother, Paige Figi, told FOX31 Denver as she showed us a syringe full of the cannabis oil.

It’s diluted with olive oil, and mixed with the food Charlotte eats. She takes the medicine twice a day.

The results have been astounding. Charlotte, who’d been unable to walk, or talk, or eat – is now dancing and playing.  And she’s down to just two or three seizures a week.

Charlotte’s story will get national attention this weekend as part of a CNN documentary called ‘Weed.’ It’s sparking a coast-to-coast debate about whether pot is harmful or helpful.

For Josh Stanley, there’s no debate.

“When we met Charlotte, she was a catatonic child. She couldn’t get out of her wheelchair.  She couldn’t swallow. And now she’s off all of her pharmaceuticals,” Stanley told FOX31 Denver.

Stanley’s company custom-developed the strain of cannabis used to treat Charlotte. It’s now being used to treat dozens of other kids suffering from epilepsy, too.

They call the strain “Charlotte’s Web.”

Stanley and his siblings also set up a nonprofit called Realm of Caring, to help pay for other desperate families to move to Colorado, where their epileptic kids can legally be treated.

At six, Charlotte may seem young but she’s hardly the youngest being treated with medicinal marijuana. There are about 40 kids in Colorado with medical marijuana cards. The youngest, less than a year old.

All of them benefitting – their families would tell you – from a once-unthinkable remedy.

“Just living a normal life. It’s 100 percent different,” Paige Figi said.

There are questions about the long-term effects of marijuana use in young people, but most every study up until now has involved marijuana smokers – and Charlotte doesn’t smoke the marijuana.

And by the way, the cannabis oil doesn’t make her high. It’s from a strain that’s very low in Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC – which is the mind-altering ingredient in marijuana.