Though cannabidiol’s presence in cannabis strains has been recognized since cannabis research pioneer Dr. Mechoulam’s work on the substance in the 1960s, CBD did not gain significant traction as a treatment option until 2012, after a CNN documentary detailing young Charlotte Figi and her family’s incredible success using CBD against Charlotte’s intractable Dravet Syndrome , a rare form of epilepsy that causes dangerous and debilitating seizures on a constant basis from a young age and cannot be controlled by medication. The 5-year-old had struggled with severe and intense seizures and involuntary muscle spasms since infancy, and doctors had expended all possible clinical options available to them.
Charlotte’s parents happened upon an online story of a young boy in California whose Dravet had been successfully treated with a cannabis strain high in CBD and low in THC. Though Charlotte would be the youngest patient in the state of Colorado to apply for a medical marijuana card, their family had run out of options. Studies that have investigated the long-term effects of marijuana use demonstrate that such use has negative effects such as diminished lung function and increased risk of heart attack– outcomes that are associated with those who administer cannabis via smoking. Charlotte would not be smoking. Charlotte would be using an oil tincture composed of the isolated cannabinoid her parents hoped would alleviate her Dravet.
Almost immediately from Charlotte’s first small dose, seizures that had previously occurred three to four times an hour, never arrived. And they didn’t come for the next seven days. The results of Charlotte’s turnaround stunned her family, and they soon got in touch with the Stanley brothers, a family of Colorado cannabis growers and dispensary owners who had bred a strain of marijuana that was very high in CBD and very low in THC, bringing the psychoactivity of the strain down to almost 0. The collaboration and partnership between the Stanleys and Charlotte’s family led to the Realm of Caring Foundation, a nonprofit organization under the Stanleys that provides cannabis to adults and children suffering from diseases such as epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s.
With a twice-daily regimen of her CBD medicine, Charlotte’s seizures have almost ceased entirely, occurring only about two or three times a month, and usually in her sleep. 6-year-old Charlotte’s waking life has changed drastically — she can walk, feed herself, ride a bike, talk with her parents.
The strain that the Stanleys shared with Charlotte eventually became known as Charlotte’s Web, and became the ancestral strain for several additional breeds that were cultivated specifically for their low THC levels.