Today we remember the life of Charlotte Figi, whose life touched so many and forever changed the face of our industry and our nation. In her all too brief life, Charlotte Figi became an icon for the CBD and cannabis industries, and the lasting legacy she and her family leaves will continue to inspire societal change and better lives for years to come.
Charlotte passed away on Tuesday, April 7, from complications likely related to an undiagnosed case of COVID-19. Charlotte was 13 years old.
We at CBD Choice want to take a moment to celebrate Charlotte Figi’s life, to shine a light on the powerful positive influence that her story has had, and to pay our respects to this modern icon.
Charlotte Figi’s Story
At the age of three months old, Charlotte Figi began her struggle with Dravet’s Syndrome, a rare and debilitating form of epilepsy. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, Dravet’s Syndrome is “a rare, drug-resistant epilepsy that begins in the first year of life in an otherwise healthy infant,” and which persists throughout the patient’s lifetime.
At the height of her condition, sources report that Charlotte suffered from over 300 grand mal seizures each week. Her symptoms were severe, with seizures often lasting for between two to four hours. This led to repeated hospitalizations and an extensive search for effective treatments, including MRI’s, EEG’s, spinal taps, and a host of traditional medications — including several heavy, highly addictive drugs such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines.
As is often the case with Dravet’s Syndrome, traditional medical treatments were largely unable to help. Despite the best efforts of her medical team, Charlotte’s condition continued to worsen. By the time she was two years old, Charlotte’s condition and treatment were taking a significant toll on her cognitive development. Her family feared the worst.
A Turn Towards Alternative Treatment
Charlotte’s father, Matt, spent countless hours researching ways to help ease his daughter’s suffering. This research led him to reports of a California boy whose condition had been improved through the use of medical marijuana — specifically, a strain very low in psychoactive THC but very high in non-intoxicating CBD.
By this time, Charlotte’s condition had significantly deteriorated. Although she had developed normally for years, she was no longer able to walk, talk, or eat without direct assistance.
Despite the family’s reluctance, they determined to seek medical marijuana treatment, which had recently been legalized in Colorado. Charlotte was the youngest patient to ever apply for medical marijuana treatment in that state’s history. Despite resistance from many in the medical community, the Figis eventually found physicians willing to work with them.
Shortly thereafter, the family had secured a small amount of CBD-rich, low-THC cannabis, and extracted the cannabinoids into an oil not unlike the CBD oil tinctures so widely available today. The Figi’s gave Charlotte her first dose of CBD-rich oil and hoped for the best.
Improvements With CBD Use
After her first dose of CBD, Charlotte Figi’s condition improved quickly and dramatically. In fact, the results were nothing short of stunning.
Charlotte’s mother, Paige, would later recall the period after that first CBD treatment. She reflected, “When [Charlotte] didn’t have those three, four seizures that first hour, that was the first sign…and I thought well, ‘Let’s go another hour, this has got to be a fluke.'”
But it wasn’t a fluke. For the next seven days, Charlotte was completely seizure-free — a startling improvement from the 300 weekly seizures she had suffered previously.
And these results continued. Although Charlotte still suffered from occasional seizures (once or twice a month according to most sources), her continued regular CBD oil treatment vastly improved her quality of life and allowed her and her family to thrive for years to come.
Charlotte Figi’s Passing
On March 26, 2020, Charlotte’s mother Paige revealed that all members of the Figi family had fallen ill and were quarantining in their home. Although the illness was not diagnosed, sources report that it was a “coronavirus-like ailment”.
The family was reportedly suffering from “fevers, pains, coughs” and were “struggling to breathe” — all common symptoms of the current COVID-19 pandemic. And indeed, when Charlotte was eventually hospitalized, she was treated in a coronavirus ward.
Although Charlotte’s family members were all able to recover safely, Charlotte’s illness continued to worsen over the coming weeks. On April 5, however, it seemed that Charlotte’s condition had improved. Paige announced on facebook that Charlotte had been discharged from the hospital, and that the family was feeling hopeful relief.
Tragically, however, Charlotte’s condition took a turn for the worse. She died two days later, in the company of her loving family.
It is impossible to overstate the influence that Charlotte Figi’s all too brief life has had on the world we share. Hers was a life of struggle and sacrifice, of hope and healing, of inspiration and education. The legacy she leaves behind will endure for years to come, and will continue to better the lives of so many and guide the policies that shape our shared world.
Charlotte’s tragic and untimely death is a reminder to all of us of the strange and worrisome times we live in. The current coronavirus pandemic affects us all; young or old, healthy or sickly, we all must be vigilant and do our part to stop the spread of this disease and to save innocent lives.
But Charlotte Figi’s true legacy comes not from her tragic death, but from her inspiring life.
Charlotte’s experience with medical cannabis and the educational outreach that she and her family have performed have touched the hearts and swayed the minds of so many in our society. Through television appearances, interviews, social media, product development, and more, the Figi family has done more than almost anyone to help destigmatize medical use of CBD and cannabis. These efforts have had a profound effect, bettering the lives of thousands upon thousands who might otherwise have never found the therapeutic difference that CBD can make.
Their destigmatization and normalization efforts have also had a powerful effect in shaping public policy throughout our nation. As societal recognition of cannabis’s therapeutic potential grows, more and more states are making medical and recreational cannabis legally available. And in stark contrast to the early 2000’s, when Charlotte Figi first pursued her CBD treatment, cannabidiol is now widely available and used by so many to take control of their health and wellness and to treat a startling variety of conditions.
Our nation, our industry, and thousands of individuals throughout the world owe so very much to Charlotte Figi and her family. In this time of grief, please know that Charlotte will be remembered fondly across the world, praised for the positive influence that she had on us all.
No matter what paths we take in life, there is nothing more beautiful and honorable than bettering the lives of others. That’s exactly what Charlotte Figi and her family have done for us all.
From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.