Charlotte’s Web, the company that developed a medical marijuana strain that drew hundreds of parents of epileptic children to Colorado, will give away $1 million in products in honor of its namesake who died this month.
Charlotte Figi, 13, a former Colorado Springs resident, died April 7 from complications of Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes catastrophic seizures. Though she had tested negative, she was also thought to have contracted coronavirus, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently said.
“We had to say goodbye to our sweet little Charlotte, who we really considered to be our original founder and the founder of this industry,” said Joel Stanley, Charlotte’s Web co-founder, in a Facebook video posted to the business’s website this month.
“And I know that it’s in her spirit and with her spirit that we make this announcement.”
Those in need of a free bottle of Charlotte’s Web can fill out a short form, at nonprofit partner Realm of Caring’s website. Those who fill out the form will receive a coupon code for a free bottle of the product, though $8.99 is still due for shipping and handling.
Stanley is one of six Colorado Springs brothers who developed a new strain of marijuana nearly a decade ago that provided significant seizure relief for Charlotte and countless others.
The oil is exceptionally low in THC, the chemical in marijuana that produces a high, and exceptionally high in a chemical called cannabidiol (CBD), which has no intoxicating effects. When Charlotte began using it nearly a decade ago, a handful of studies suggested it might quell seizures.
When the brothers developed the strain, they initially called it Hippie’s Disappointment because it couldn’t get smokers high. Before Charlotte’s family called seeking help, they had been unable to find a market for it.
In 2012, Charlotte’s mom was desperate and willing to try anything to save her daughter, for whom she’d signed a “do not resuscitate” order, and improve her quality of life. So she mixed a squirt of Hippie’s Disappointment into her food.
Almost immediately, the young girl’s seizures stopped. She went seven days without an attack. Her parents began giving Charlotte the oil twice a day. The girl who once had 300 seizures a week had, on average, fewer than one. She began walking. She began talking. She began playing, all with no side effects. Her parents weaned her off her other prescription drugs.
“That’s when it really sank in,” Stanley told The Gazette in 2016. “This is not a fluke. This is not going away. There is a purpose to everything under the sun, including the marijuana plant.”
Astonished by the results, the Stanleys renamed the plant Charlotte’s Web.
CNN’s Sanjay Gupta reported the results in his August 2014 program ”Weed.” That’s when the migration started.
Over the next year and a half, more than 500 families relocated to Colorado. Charlotte’s family, along with two others, founded Realm of Caring, a nonprofit, to help these “medical refugees,” who strained family bonds and budgets to give their kids Charlotte’s Web, which remained illegal under federal law.
Charlotte’s Web launched the industry of medical-grade CBD oil, and her story — and the stories of those like her — led to laws about medical cannabis changing nationwide.
Gazette religion correspondent Steve Rabey contributed to this report.