The Great Migration: The Case for Medicinal Marijuana’s Tiniest Refugees

I’ll be honest, I was taken aback the first time I learned the backstory of the acclaimed “Charlotte’s Web”—and no, this isn’t a reference to the rather iconic children’s tale about a do-gooder type spider. Instead, it’s a particular strain of cannabidiol oil made infamous by helping to cure a 9-year-old—named Charlotte— and her epileptic seizures. Yes, you read that right—kids are getting served the green—and while researchers and doctors still sit on a very divided and perplexed fence, the vast majority of the general public cries out in controversy over the issue. Kids getting stoned may be absolute blasphemy to many more conservative folks, but for those with extremely ill children, massive medical bills, and a bleak outlook for recovery on their hands—it might be the only solution.

Let’s examine the facts.

Since Colorado became the first state in the nation to legalize the growing and selling of recreational and medical marijuana in 2012, giving citizens the reigns to grow, distribute, and buy—public opinion remains uncertain. Sure, there have been proven studies that cannabis possesses many healing properties, but the idea of people getting high for the sake of medicine still seems to unfathomable to some. One should note however, that certain strains and solutions (THC, CBD, etc.) are said to yield certain results and what works for one patient might not work for all. But studies most definitely show that Mary Jane can cure certain ailments that prescriptions drugs cannot. And while popping prescriptions pills may deem more socially acceptable, the damage on the body in comparison to those using cannabis is unsettling.

Which brings me back to the case of little Charlotte—the girl attributed to changing medical marijuana laws across America with her ever-so-touching story. Physicians had diagnosed her at an extremely young age with Dravet syndrome, a severe myoclonic epilepsy of infancy that experiences seizures often triggered by hot temperatures or fever, and by age two, Charlotte had tried and failed every anti-epilepsy drug to the point that her mother had all but completely given up any hope of a life for her. After bringing Charlotte home from the hospital with a “do not resuscitate” order, her mother was forced to either sit and watch her child slowly die or attempt one last option. A friend put Paige in contact with Joel Stanley, a Colorado-based medicinal marijuana grower, and together the two created a special strain of CBD oil, dubbed “Charlotte’s Web” for obvious reasons. Two doses a day dramatically stopped Charlotte’s 300+ seizures a week and the rest, as they say, is history. CNN covered the story in 2013 with a documentary called “Weed” bringing Charlotte’s miraculous recovery to light and increasing a growing demand for products high in CBD to treat epileptic children.

Though Charlotte’s particular story has a happy resolve, the issues of legality and morality remain for others. Some states simply do not allow the distribution of cannabis outside strict constraints, hence the plight of Colorado’s Marijuana Refugees. Since Colorado’s legalization laws passed in 2012, the state has seen an influx of people migrating to the region in hopes of sanctuary, treatment, and or one last shot of fighting a losing battle. Many have fled their hometowns to avoid illegally transporting the goods or waiting for bills and treatment laws to be passed while their children continue to suffer, and many success stories have been told of children suffering from cancer and epilepsy who have received positive results from cannabinoid treatment.

While there has been significant progress in getting states to legalize THC, CBD, and other medicinal marijuana strains, it has definitely been an uphill battle. And for parents who have run out of new treatments to try, other options have become desolate. Worrying about the effects of marijuana on a developing body and brain are justifiable, sure, and then of course those pesky morality questions come into hand—but for those without options, desperate enough to try anything to save a life, perhaps cannabis just might be the only viable answer.

When it comes to matter of life and death, would it be too crass to ask…would you pass on grass?

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