Charlotte Figi, the young girl whose medical condition inspired the Stanley Brothers to develop the low-THC strain Charlotte’s Web, has died due to COVID-19 symptoms. She was 13.
“Charlotte is no longer suffering,” photographer Nichole Montanez wrote on behalf of the Figi family. “She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love.”
Figi had tested negative for COVID-19. "Given our family’s month-long history with illness and despite the negative test results, she was treated as a likely COVID-19 case," her mother, Paige, wrote on Facebook.
In 2013, the first installment of CNN’s Weed documentary shined a bright light on Figi’s story. When she was only a few months old, Figi began experiencing terrible seizures. By 2, she was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of intractable epilepsy. Her prescription medications added up, both financially and physiologically; the toll on her body was severe.
By 5, Figi was suffering through 300 grand mal seizures each week.
This was in 2012, and by that point medical cannabis was not fully accepted by American physicians. The Figi family was told to continue on with other medication, but soon her father found a video of a young boy in California with Dravet Syndrome. He was being treated with cannabis. It seemed to work.
Then the Figi family heard about the Stanley brothers in Colorado. They were developing cannabis plants that were low in THC and high in CBD. The only problem? The market didn’t know what to do with plants like that. High THC was the only thing selling in those days.
After meeting Charlotte, the Stanley brothers further honed their unique plant and named the cultivar Charlotte’s Web. Their company is now called Charlotte's Web outright, and the Stanley brothers have gone on to develop new hemp-derived CBD products.
"I didn't hear her laugh for six months," Charlotte’s mother, Paige, told CNN. "I didn't hear her voice at all, just her crying. I can't imagine that I would be watching her making these gains that she's making, doing the things that she's doing [without the medical marijuana]. I don't take it for granted. Every day is a blessing."
Editor's note: This story has been updated to more accurately describe Charlotte's symptoms.