Science & Technology

Charlotte Figi's Story Brings Families to Colorado for Her Medical Marijuana Strain

Parents relocating to try to get treatment for children's seizures


Charlotte Figi, in darker days

In August, the remarkable story of Charlotte Figi, a now 7-year-old girl whose dangerous, frequent seizures resisted all treatments until medical marijuana, prompted CNN's medical expert Sanjay Gupta to overcome his own resistance to the drug's use.

Today CBS News follows up to note that apparently dozens of other families are now making the trek to Colorado in order to get access to the same strain of marijuana, known as "Charlotte's Web," for children also suffering from rare epileptic disorders that are defying treatment. They spoke to another family who came to Colorado and saw similarly effective results:

The family of 20-month-old Maggie Selmeski moved from Tennessee to Colorado last November seeking Charlotte's Web. Her mom, Rachel, told CBS News' Teri Okita that her daughter would suffer up to 500 seizures a day, and epilepsy medication did not help. However, Charlotte's Web has reduced the seizures drastically, she said.

"I can watch people's face as I tell them we're giving her cannabis oil, and it's like … a little questioning," she said.

And then, of course, all this good news is followed by this sentence: "Doctors warn there is no proof that Charlotte's Web is effective, or even safe." Another doctor pointed out there's no "peer-reviewed study" yet. It's the kind of statement that tends to fall on the deaf ears of parents whose kids are having hundreds of seizures that defy all treatment and who are diplomatically being told not to get terribly attached to their progeny. These aren't ulcer treatments the parents are looking for, and based on the reporting on children with this rare version of epilepsy, it's not like they're giving up tried-and-true conventional medical treatments for homeopathic remedies or magic crystals. Modern medicine was unable to fix these problems. What else are the parents supposed to do? (And do we need to get into how the lack of research into the effectiveness of marijuana as a medical treatment is a direct consequence of the country's own drug policies in the first place?)

Read more and watch the CBS segment here.