Charlotte’s Web is a specific strain of marijuana that has a higher concentration of cannabidiol and a much lower dose of THC than traditional forms of marijuana. The low level of THC means users will not feel the euphoria associated with marijuana but will still be able to benefit from its medicinal properties.
Several states that currently do not allow for the widespread use of medical marijuana have passed laws that allow Charlotte’s Web, and strains with a similar makeup, to be used for treatment in patients with forms of epilepsy.
Earlier this year, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, also known as the Charlotte’s Web law, which gives doctors the the ability to prescribe the drug.
Scott said in a statement:
“As a father and grandfather, you never want to see kids suffer. The approval of Charlotte’s Web will ensure that children in Florida who suffer from seizures and other debilitating illnesses will have the medication needed to improve their quality of life.”
The Charlotte’s Web strain was developed by the Stanley brothers, who are among Colorado’s largest marijuana growers and dispensary owners, and named after Charlotte Figi, a child who suffers from a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome. Charlotte’s parents heard about the Stanley’s high cannabidiol/low THC plant and contacted the brothers about using it to treat their daughter, who, by age five, had lost the ability to walk, talk, and feed herself, and was having up to 300 grand mal seizures a week.
Using Charlotte’s Web as a treatment, the child’s seizures dropped to only three or four a month, almost exclusively in her sleep. She can walk and talk again, and has even learned to ride a bicycle.
While most of the data on the benefits of Charlotte’s Web have been anecdotal so far, a new clinical trial, believed to be the first of its kind, looks to provide hard scientific data about the effects of marijuana on epilepsy patients.
The trial is being conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado and will focus on the Charlotte’s Web strain and patients with Dravet Syndrome specifically. Scientists will conduct a “genetic analysis of the differences between Dravet responders and non-responders,” which they believe “may prove useful for identifying patients likely to be helped by this therapy, as well as shed light on the putative mechanism by which marijuana may exert any antiepileptic effect.”
The principal investigator of the study, Edward Maa, told Time that the trial is “the first attempt to get the information people are interested in that is observational in nature.”
“The more data we are able to collect in a large sample, the closer to the truth we will get,” said Maa, assistant professor at UC Denver and chief of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Programs at Denver health.
Maa also said the study’s results “could allow children with Dravet Syndrome to be genetically screened before taking Charlotte’s Web so parents could know ahead of time if their children would benefit” from the drug, Time reported.
For patients with epilepsy, this natural form of treatment could be a miracle drug. Any scientific data that can prove and explain its medical attributes could go a long way towards changing restrictive laws that prevent its use in states that haven’t yet legalized it.