Creator of Charlotte's Web marijuana strain says Canada legislation is archaic
Published Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:14AM EDT
The developer of a special strain of marijuana marketed to children hopes to convince Health Canadato allow the product in the country, as some Canadian families head south of the border to receive the drug that's been shown to significantly reduce seizures.
Colorado cannabis producer Josh Stanley and his brothers developed Charlotte's Web -- a special strain of marijuana oil with very little THC and very high cannabidiol (CBD), the component believed to reduce seizures.
The marijuana extract is designed not to produce a high, but instead fight seizures through its high level of anti-inflammatory properties.
The strain is named in honour of Charlotte Figi, a U.S. girl who was losing a lifelong battle to epilepsy until she began using the marijuana oil.
"When we had met Charlotte, unfortunately, her family had signed a do-not-resuscitate order," Stanley told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday.
Charlotte was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, a rare and catastrophic form epilepsy that begins in infancy. Prior to testing the oil she was suffering from about 350 seizures a week.
Doctors had told the Figi family there were few options left for the youngster after the majority of anti-epileptic drugs had failed to work. Neurologists removed Charlotte from the drugs she had been prescribed. She began using the cannabis oil as an end of life comfort measure.
"Immediately after starting this all-natural, organic treatment, she went from 350 seizures to zero," Stanley said. "And two-and-a-half years later she remains 97- per cent seizure-free."
The marijuana extract is produced in Colorado, but state law does not allow the shipment or sale of marijuana products out-of-state.
Stanley said this has led to the creation of "medical refugees." He said a number of families have moved to Colorado from throughout the U.S., and some from Canada, to receive the treatment.
"Kids come there and get the treatment, but then they become prisoners in Colorado," he said. "They're not able to leave the state."
Since that winter of 2012 more than 180 pediatric epilepsy patients have started treatment. Stanley said "thousands" of others are on the waiting list, including some children from Canada.
Health Canada does not permit the sale of cannabis resins, oils, extractions and edible marijuana products. Only dry medical marijuana can be sold to clients.
Stanley described the medical marijuana legislation in Canada as "archaic."
"Heath Canada seems to want to push kids to smoking, or people to smoking, because extracts are not allowed," he said.
Stanley said the best way to change health officials' minds about the marijuana oil is to "show them they have a problem."
"What we're talking about here is life or death for many of these children," he said.