A small faction of parents calling themselves marijuana "refugees" are heading to Colorado in order to obtain medical marijuana for their children who suffer from epilepsy.
According to a recent report by The Colorado Springs Gazette, parents of children suffering from severe epilepsy are becoming more drawn to the apparent success stories of children whose seizures are being curbed by medical marijuana.
In June there were only 35 kids under the age of 18 on the Colorado patient registry, but as of August that number rose to 60. Medical marijuana is legal for minors in the state and in at least 15 states and the District of Columbia, as long as they have some form of parental consent.
The increase of patients in August coincided with the airing of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN documentary "WEED" which featured the medical marijuana success story of 6-year-old Charlotte Figi.
Charlotte was diagnosed with a rare disorder called Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of prolonged seizures that begin in infancy and can result in death. The young girl was having over 300 tonic-clonic seizures a week and her mother Paige Figi said the family had "reached the end of the road" with pharmaceutical drugs for her, so they began to consider cannabis.
"As luck would have it, Paige Figi found us in February of 2012," said Josh Stanley with the Realm of Caring, a nonprofit organization that grows medical marijuana strains high in CBD -- the non-toxic, non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD, or cannabidiol, has a property that has shown to be helpful with seizure control and was even recently approved by the FDA for clinical trials in children with epilepsy.
"My brothers and I thought that this little-known compound might just be the missing link to provide some validity in the realm of cannabis research and as it turns out we were correct," Stanley said during a TEDx Talk in Boulder in September. "Now the plant we had created, while it may have immense medical benefits, completely non-psychoactive... so we named the plant 'The Hippie's Disappointment' [but] it proved incredibly useful to Charlotte."
With the cannabis oil formulated by the Stanley brothers, Charlotte went from having a seizure every 25 minutes to zero or one a week. The oil was then renamed "Charlotte's Web," so named for Charlotte.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Margaret Gedde, a Stanford-educated Colorado Springs pathologist who has recommended children for medical marijuana, told The Gazette. "People will continue to come because it works. Patients are seeing between 50 and 90 percent reduction in seizures with no side effects. That's amazing."