Colorado is less than a month away from becoming the first state in the country to offer legal retail sales of small amounts of marijuana to adults over the age of 21. But even before the groundbreaking law goes into effect, families from across the country have already set up stakes in the centennial state in an effort to treat their children’s illnesses with a remarkable new oil derived from a special strain of the plant.
So far, so good.
In a New York Times story that was published yesterday, several families discussed the astonishing effects the oil known as Charlotte’s Web has had on their ailing children. Although the specific syndromes plaguing their children varies, they uniformly claim that oil has reduced seizure symptoms, in some cases by 98 to 100 percent.
“It’s really incredible,” Heather Jackson, whose son Zaki was suffering up to 200 seizures a day as a result of his Doose syndrome, told the Times in an interview. “For whatever reason, this has put his syndrome into remission.”
The miracle drug that has families flocking to Colorado is derived from a strain of the plant called “Charlotte” that contains just 0.5 percent THC -- the psychoactive ingredient of the cannabis plant -- but 17 percent cannabidiol, or CBD, a chemical compound that provides no high but is believed to have a variety of medical applications.
In a video produced by the group Realm of Caring, Paige Figi describes the challenges faced by her daughter Charlotte, who the plant is named after and who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a severe form of pediatric epilepsy. For the first two and a half years of her life, Charlotte routinely suffered seizures that could last up to four hours and could not be treated medically. After trying all available pharmaceuticals to no avail, Figi turned to CBD oil and within three months, Charlotte was at a “90 percent seizure reduction and free of all pharmaceuticals,” Paige Figi writes on the groups website.
“Eight months into our journey put her at 99+ percent seizure reduction,” Figi says.
Stories such as these have lead parents desperate to treat their children to move to Colorado once they’ve exhausted all other options. A prescription for medical marijuana can be acquired relatively easily, with certification from a practicing doctor. Nearly all of the families with epileptic children have seen similar results.
Per the Times:
“Dr. Margaret Gedde, a Colorado physician who has recommended medical marijuana to dozens of families with severely epileptic children, recently conducted a small survey that offered promising results. Of 11 families who treated their children with high-CBD oil, eight reported that their children’s seizures had fallen by 98 to 100 percent. The other families reported smaller but noticeable declines.”
Part of the reason the CBD oil remains such a mysterious remedy is the lack of clinical research. Because marijuana is considered by the DEA to be a “Schedule I” substance -- that is, a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” -- there has been very little academic or clinical research into the medical applications of marijuana in general or CBD in particular (by contrast, the DEA classifies cocaine and methamphetamine as “Schedule II” drugs, “with less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs”).
With Colorado’s new pot laws, that could soon change. In fact, Dr. Gedde is scheduled to present her research to the American Epilepsy Society at a meeting next week, the Times reports. But until there’s more scientific inquiry into the specifics of why CBD-based oil seems to be curing these children when traditional medicine has failed, the mysticism and wonder surrounding this miracle drug will remain.