Colorado's medical marijuana community is honoring fallen hero Charlotte Figi on the anniversary of her passing with a virtual benefit concert.
Headlined by the Avett Brothers, April 7's Rock the RoC show will also include performances and appearances by Governor Jared Polis, Glen Phillips, Ruthie Foster, Graham Nash, Sarah Jarosz, The War and the Treaty, Jeffrey Gaines, Nora Brown, Molly Tuttle and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the former CNN personality whose documentary made Figi a catalyst for medical marijuana policy reform and CBD interest around the globe.
Figi was just a toddler when she appeared on CNN in 2013. She'd begun taking CBD oil extracted from a non-intoxicating strain of marijuana a year earlier to treat her Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that can cause extreme seizures. Her family reported that CBD nearly eliminated Charlotte's seizures, and she eventually no longer required a feeding tube to eat. The strain from which Charlotte's CBD oil was extracted was later named Charlotte's Web, and the world's fascination with CBD followed shortly after.
Unfortunately, Figi was among those at higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last March she was hospitalized because of what her family believed were coronavirus complications, and her mother later announced that Charlotte had passed away at the age of thirteen.
Just over two weeks after Figi's death, Polis issued an executive order proclaiming that going forward, April 7 will be known as Charlotte Figi Day in Colorado. To celebrate Charlotte's life further, some of her old friends want to throw a festival to benefit the same organization that helped her family on their journey through medical marijuana.
The Realm of Caring foundation, the organization hosting the event, helped the Figi family learn more about medical marijuana and procure Charlotte's medicine early on, and co-founder Heather Jackson maintains a friendship with the family today. She was sitting outside the helicopter launch pad when Charlotte entered the hospital last March, unable to visit her during her final hours because of COVID-19 protocols.
"I tried to see her through the window at the helipad, and let her know that someone was there. We were together as close as we could be through that," she says. "Our families are still thick as thieves. To not have been able to connect through this last year has been very hard. That's why this will be so healing."
Jackson's son, Zaki, also suffers from a rare form of epilepsy, and went from hospice to living a relatively normal life after using medical marijuana and CBD oil. In the foundation's early days, Jackson and Charlotte's mother, Paige, would regularly hold bonfire gatherings for other medical marijuana patients and their families. To honor Charlotte, Jackson wants Rock the RoC to carry a similar vibe, even if the originally planned venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre, wasn't available to book during the pandemic.
"Instead of meeting at Red Rocks like we planned, we're basically going to have to create a movie," she says, noting that her foundation hasn't been able to properly honor Charlotte publicly because of the pandemic. "We haven't had an opportunity to do that yet. This is also to continue the mission, continue to be there to answer the phone, continue giving grants to families."
According to Jackson, the successes and heartbreak suffered by the Figi family are common in their community. When it comes to friends who've lost their children, she stopped counting at thirty. But whether it's helping a child live a seizure-free life or making a stage-four cancer patient feel comfortable in their last few months, the community keeps going.
"You're going to have to go through it no matter what, but the fact that you don't have to do it alone can bring a better quality of life for that process," she says.
Jackson estimates that Realm of Caring has given away around $3 million in medical cannabis products and cash since 2013. Viewers of the April 7 concert can tune in for free, but donations can be made before and during the show. Realm of Caring is also seeking sponsorships from cannabis and local businesses, and will launch a Kickstarter campaign in March to further support this effort. Artist Shepard Fairey's Studio Number One has been commissioned to design merchandise for the show, as well, with all proceeds benefiting the foundation, Jackson notes.
Learn more about Rock the RoC and how to donate to the Realm of Caring at the show's website.
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