Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Gazette Premium Content Family hopeful that their story of medical marijuana will help other children

By Jakob Rodgers Updated: June 11, 2013 at 10:26 pm

Paige Figi found two notes left on her front door and took numerous phone calls this week from people wanting information or expressing thanks regarding her decision to use medical marijuana to ease her 6-year-old daughter's near-constant seizures.

"People just are desperate" for help, said Figi, who lives in Black Forest. "And nothing will work."

Figi tried everything to help daughter Charlotte before turning to marijuana. She was hesitant about the idea - almost resistant at first.

Stricken with Dravet syndrome, Charlotte suffered seizures so severe she couldn't walk or feed herself. Her parents tried powerful medications and a highly specialized diet. None worked for more than a few months. Charlotte's seizures continued.

On Tuesday, more than a year after offering Charlotte her first dose of a specialized form of medicinal marijuana, Figi sounded a hopeful tone that others' views will evolve quicker than her own.

Figi said response has been "really positive" to a story in Sunday's Gazette detailing the family's decision to try marijuana.

She "couldn't even put a number" on the phone calls she has received since Sunday - a fact due, in part, to her work as a volunteer for a nonprofit organization tied to the family that grows her child's medicinal marijuana.

Charlotte's story is one of dozens of such cases across the state, where children with debilitating conditions use a product from a unique Teller County marijuana grower, supporters say.

The specialized form of marijuana Charlotte takes is served with olive oil and contains trace amounts of THC, the drug's psychoactive ingredient.

It is rich, though, in CBD, which contains much of marijuana's medicinal properties.

Charlotte's seizures dropped from 1,200 a month to three, and she has since done away with all other medications.

Josh Stanley - who makes the specialized marijuana, along with several of his brothers - said he plans to increase production of the plant.

"Our goal by this fall would be to be able to treat more than 500 children in Colorado," Stanley said. "But gosh, there's so many more who could be taken care of."

Stanley offers the drug to patients at a cost of pennies per milligram, a cost that he's able to afford with profits from his dispensary, Indispensary, as well as donations to a nonprofit organization called Realm of Caring.

The nonprofit received more than 100 calls - almost all from Colorado families requesting help and treatment, said Heather Jackson, a volunteer whose son uses the marijuana.

Figi hopes that her child's story spurs change in laws across the nation - changes that would allow the drug to be shipped across state lines.

But despite this week's warm reception, she knows that could take time.

"I think it's just going to have to be a step process," she said.

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Contact Jakob Rodgers: 476-1654

Twitter @jakobrodgers

Facebook Jakob Rodgers

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