Outpourings of love, support and mourning have been proliferating online for the young girl that inspired the name of a common cannabis oil used to treat seizures in patients after it was announced by her family that she had passed away on Tuesday at the age of 13 years after suspected complications caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Charlotte’s mother, Paige Figi, posted a message on Facebook on behalf of Charlotte and her family.
“Our family is grateful for the outpouring of love while we mourn the loss of our Charlotte. Charlotte had a catastrophic form of early childhood epilepsy called Dravet syndrome. We are moved by the continual impact that Charlotte’s life has made shedding light on the potential of cannabis for quality of life,” wrote Paige Figi.
Though Charlotte tested negative for the coronavirus and was discharged from the hospital on April 5, her condition worsened and when her family returned her to the hospital, Charlotte was placed in PICU and treated as a likely COVID-19 patient.
“Our entire family had been ill for close to a month starting early March, but did not initially fit all of the criteria for COVID-19 testing. For that reason, we were told to self-treat at home unless the symptoms worsened,” said Paige Figi.
“Charlotte had a seizure in the early morning on April 7th resulting in respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. Seizures are not uncommon with illness and paramedics were called returning us to the PICU. Given our family’s month-long history with illness and despite the negative test results, she was treated as a likely COVID-19 case. Her fighting spirit held out as long as it could and she eventually passed in our arms peacefully.”
Dravet syndrome, the condition that Charlotte lived with, caused her to have as many as 300 seizures a week, go into repeated cardiac arrest and use a wheelchair starting at age five. After visiting a multitude of health professionals that told her that medical options were all but exhausted, Charlotte’s mother began calling medical cannabis dispensaries in her local Colorado area in search of a treatment. After taking a cannabis oil with low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels and a high level of cannabidiol (CBD), Charlotte’s symptoms began to drastically disappear.
The story of Charlotte’s success with the strain of cannabis oil led other parents to not only embrace the potential benefits of cannabis on children with seizures but also led many of them to move to Colorado, where marijuana was legalized before any other state in the U.S. In honor of Charlotte, the strain’s name was also changed to Charlotte’s Web, a now well-known strain of marijuana.
Charlotte’s impact was also seen in the government when states, including those with conservative backgrounds, passed reformation bills to allow safe and legal access to CBD products.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of the top GOP advocates for sweeping marijuana reform, said that in 2014, Charlotte’s story directly influenced his decision to support medical cannabis legalization in the state of Florida.
Charlotte lived a life of tremendous significance. Her story inspired me to completely change my views on medical cannabis and successfully pass legislation so that patients could get help in Florida.— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) April 8, 2020
I’m so sad she is gone, but the movement she has ignited will live forever. https://t.co/e0IO0BM6Bg
In 2015, the Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act was introduced to congress with bipartisan support.
“Charlotte Figi personalized this issue in a way that few others have, and her story humanized the medical cannabis fight to such a degree that many politicians could no longer ignore it,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment. “There is little doubt that Charlotte’s story, arguably more than any other, paved the way for politicians in several southern and midwestern states to finally move forward to recognize the need for CBD, and in some cases, whole-plant cannabis access.”
Charlotte Figi’s story and perseverance has motivated countless amounts of individuals to advocate for the beneficial effects of the cannabis plant. Charlotte was featured in the CNN documentary “Weed” with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and was even the musical inspiration for the song “Oh Charlotte” by marijuana supporter and rapper MC FLOW. You can listen to that song below.
“Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever,” read the message on Facebook on behalf of the Figi family. “Thank you so much for all of your love. Please respect their privacy at this time.”