Charlotte Figi, the little girl who inspired millions of people around the world as she and her family launched a movement that led to widespread changes in marijuana laws, has died due to complications related to coronavirus.
Speaking for her family, a friend announced Charlotte’s death on the Facebook page of Charlotte’s mother, Paige Figi, late on April 7, 2020.
“Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love,” read the post, which also asked the public to respect the Figi family’s privacy.
Charlotte, who was 13, suffered from Dravet Syndrome, a rare drug-resistant epilepsy that begins in the first year of life in an otherwise healthy infant.
Over the past several weeks, Paige Figi and her partner Greg Iafeliece had been posting updates on social media pages, detailing how the coronavirus had torn through their home, affecting everyone in their family of five, and ultimately sending Charlotte to the hospital.
“Charlotte will be fine, I’m sure of it. She hasn’t been inside a hospital in like nine years. And she didn’t successfully navigate 13 years of Dravet Syndrome and The War on Drugs just to die from a cold,” Figi wrote on April 4th, although she noted that her daughter was suffering from something that was “so far from a cold.”
The Realm of Caring Foundation, co-founded by Paige Figi, also confirmed that Charlotte’s death was due to complications from COVID-19.
On March 30th, Figi posted on Instagram that health officials in their hometown of Colorado Springs would not test them yet because “kids aren’t even getting [Covid-19].”
One day before Charlotte’s death, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on April 6th, which indicated that children seem to be largely unaffected by the deadly coronavirus, and so far make up a small percentage of confirmed cases.
But as in the case of adults, children who fared the worst were the youngest and those with underlying health conditions, like Charlotte whose epilepsy became evident when she was just three months old.
Throughout her early years, Charlotte suffered hundreds of seizures daily, small and gran mal. Explained by her mother to a rapt audience at the 2019 High Times’ Female 50 Awards ceremony, by the time she was five, Charlotte had nearly lost the ability to walk and talk and required a feeding tube. When pharmaceutical treatments had proven ineffective, Charlotte’s parents began to research the use of cannabis oil after hearing about other successful cases.
Another speaker at the women’s event, Eleanora Kennedy, a friend of Paige Figi, woke up to the shock of Charlotte’s death. “My heart is broken at this tragic news. Charlotte was the heart and soul of the medical cannabis struggle as she and her family bravely helped prove that CBD is effective in reducing seizures,” Kennedy, a co-founder and co-owner of High Times magazine told Weedmaps News. “CBD gave Charlotte, and many other children, the lives they deserved.”
Developing Charlotte’s Web
When Charlotte was four, Paige sought out Joel Stanley, owner of the Colorado Springs medical marijuana dispensary, who along with his six brothers developed a high-cannabidiol (CBD), low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) strain that proved effective in treating seizures — especially in children.
When Paige administered the Web oil, Charlotte went from having 300 seizures a week to a few episodes per month. In honor of Charlotte, the Stanley brothers named their CBD product and their Colorado-based company, Charlotte’s Web.
Charlotte’s story took on global significance in 2013 when Dr. Sanjay Gupta made a documentary about her as the first installment of CNN’s “Weed” series. And The New York Times referred to Charlotte Figi as “Patient Zero” in a May 2019 story on CBD.
Now, expressions of grief and support are flooding into her family’s social media pages from all over the world.
“Our hearts break for the Figi family. This Angel literally changed the world, and our family, forever. Praying for comfort,” wrote David and Mandi Cromar who relocated to Colorado several years ago from Utah to be closer to Charlotte Figi and the medical cannabis that kept her alive.
Via email, Charlotte’s Web told Weedmaps News that out of respect to the Figi family, they are not commenting or speaking with the media at this time.
The Stanley brothers’ tribute to Charlotte is available online.
In lieu of flowers or cards, the Figi family has asked that donations be made to the Realm of Caring Foundation.
P.O. Box 15224
Colorado Springs, CO 80935
Featured image by Irina Iriser/Unsplash