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Girl Who Inspired CBD Movement Dies of Complications from Suspected Coronavirus Illness

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #1093)
Drug War Issues

Colorado girl Charlotte Figi, whose struggle with a severe form of epilepsy inspired a whole movement around the use of CBD and changed attitudes toward medical marijuana, has died at the age of 13. Although she did not test positive for COVID-19, she had been hospitalized for symptoms consistent with the viral infection which her entire family had. She died of complications after her bout of illness.

Charlotte Figi. Rest in Peace. (Facebook)
Figi's passing was announced last Tuesday on the Facebook page of her mother, Paige Figi: "Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love," read the message posted by a family friend.

In recent weeks, Paige Figi's Facebook page saw posts detailing an illness that hit the whole family with the all-too-familiar symptoms of fever, coughs, and difficulty breathing. Charlotte was hit particularly hard and had to be hospitalized.

On her Facebook page, Paige Figi wrote that although Charlotte tested negative for the virus, she had been treated on a COVID-19 ward "using all the medical protocols put in place" and was treated as "a likely COVID-19 case."

She was released from the hospital last Sunday but suffered seizures two days later and was readmitted to the hospital. She died the same day.

Charlotte had suffered from Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, and suffered hundreds of seizures, both large and small, every day. Standard pharmaceutical treatments didn't help, and as her condition deteriorated her parents looked for alternatives.

They heard about cannabis oil and with the help of Colorado Springs dispensary owner Joel Stanley and his brothers, who had developed a CBD-rich strain of marijuana, they were able to effectively treat Charlotte. Her seizures dramatically reduced, and her condition improved markedly.

The Stanley brothers named their product Charlotte's Web in a nod to the spirited little girl.

Her success story helped change the world when CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta grew entranced by the girl's progress and made her story a key part of a 2013 documentary in which he notably changed position and endorsed medical marijuana.

Clips of a happy, healthy, playful Charlotte, her seizures suppressed by CBD, inspired hundreds of families enduring similar medical issues with their children in marijuana prohibition states to move to Colorado to get access to CBD. With Charlotte as the smiling face of CBD, the embrace of the drug swept the country. For many states including much of the south, it was their first step toward medical marijuana. Today 47 states have laws that allow for CBD products.

Charlotte is gone, but her legacy lives on.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Elsewhere I've read that "she did not test positive" was an understatement.  She and her immediate family (who had all had respiratory symptoms) were all tested, and all tested negative for Covid-19 gene sequences.  One false negative result I could accept as such, but not a whole family full.  There is no basis for calling this a Covid-19 case, unless all cases of viral pneumonia that aren't influenza are now labeled as Covid-19, which seems to be what they're doing now!

If anyone can show me diagnostic criteria that distinguish Covid-19 from pneumonias generally, I'd like to know them.

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 12:42pm Permalink

Robert, where did you read that Charlotte's family members tested negative for COVID? What her mother's Facebook page says is that they weren't tested for COVID because they didn't meet all of the criteria. This was posted after Charlotte had passed, so presumably they were not tested later. The post says that Charlotte's illness was treated as a likely COVID-19 case.

It's true that there are other viruses, and I have two friends who were ill with what really, really sounded like COVID-19, but turned out not to be. Hence the word "suspected" about Charlotte's case.

Fri, 04/17/2020 - 11:29pm Permalink

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