RIP: Charlotte Figi, Namesake of Charlotte's Web Strain and Face of CBD Movement

Charlotte Figi has passed away at thirteen.
Charlotte Figi has passed away at thirteen. Courtesy of Paige Figi's Facebook page
Charlotte Figi, the namesake of the Charlotte's Web CBD strain and the face of a nationwide movement toward medical marijuana acceptance and CBD use, has passed away at the age of thirteen, according to a post on the Facebook page of Charlotte's mother, Paige Figi.

"Charlotte is no longer suffering. She is seizure-free forever. Thank you so much for all of your love. Please respect their privacy at this time," a friend of the Figis wrote on that page shortly after 9 p.m. April 7. Charlotte's passing was confirmed by the Realm of Caring Foundation, a medical marijuana advocacy group co-founded by Paige Figi.

In March, posts on the Facebook page reported that the Figi family had all been hit with an illness, and that Charlotte had been hospitalized. Shortly after Charlotte's death, Realm of Caring released a statement noting that she had died from coronavirus complications, but neither public-health officials nor the Figi family have commented.

If COVID-19 was the cause of her death, Charlotte would be Colorado's youngest coronavirus fatality. But as thousands of heartbreaking social-media posts commemorating the girl prove, she was much more than that. Charlotte was a star, receiving shout-outs from musicians at Red Rocks Amphitheatre while inspiring countless individuals to take a first step into cannabis education.

Charlotte became a young catalyst for medical marijuana patients around the globe in 2011, when she appeared on Sanjay Gupta's WEED documentary on CNN. A high-profile doctor and chief medical correspondent for the network, Gupta doubted medical marijuana's efficacy until he met patients like Figi, a small child who suffered from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that can cause extreme seizures.

Charlotte used CBD oil extracted from a non-intoxicating strain of marijuana to treat her symptoms, and eventually no longer required a feeding tube to eat; her family reported that CBD nearly eliminated her seizures. Charlotte's story helped flip Gupta, whose 180-degree turn on medical marijuana helped push the nation and individual states toward an entirely new era of cannabis acceptance. The growers of the strain of high-CBD marijuana Charlotte that used, the seven Stanley brothers, eventually named the strain Charlotte's Web and their company CW Hemp in her honor.

The momentum created by Charlotte's story — and the video evidence supporting it — led to one of the most significant shifts toward cannabis acceptance in modern history. Cannabidiol (CBD) was relatively unheard of before Charlotte Figi. After the CNN documentary, other families with child patients moved to Colorado for the same treatment, helping to create the phrase "medical marijuana refugee" while ultimately ending the need to be one. Today, a majority of the states have legalized medical marijuana.

CW Hemp shared the following statement on Facebook on April 8 after hearing of Charlotte's death:

Charlotte was ten feet tall and carried the world on her shoulders.

Inspiring is a lacking word, as are courageous and vivacious and strong and beautiful.

She was divine.

She grew, cultivated by a community, protected by love, demanding that the world witness her suffering so that they might find a solution. She rose every day, awakening others with her courage, and with that smile that infected your spirit at the cellular level.

The infinite compassion of community members who sacrificed their time, resources, and ideas to tend her garden of love were instrumental in her care, but there was no one more committed than the selfless Paige, both a mother and a warrior, both a human and an angel. Charlotte’s cause was her family’s cause and created a foundation of plant-based health that breathed life into their daughter, and the countless sons and daughters like her.

Charlotte, then, became everyone’s daughter or sister or friend and enlivened empathy and love from anyone who had the privilege of hearing her story, as millions did. Her story built communities, her need built hope, and her legacy will continue to build harmony.

To Paige, Matt, Greg, Max, and Chase - we are humbled by your grace, as the fruits of your kindness have fed the world with love.

She was a light that lit the world. She was a little girl who carried us all on her small shoulders.

Her legacy lives in the garden, in the blooming of ideas, in the fragrance of compassion, in the greenery of nurturing us to be better humans in all ways, always.

What began as her story, became the shared story of hundreds of thousands, and the inspiration of many millions more in the journey of their betterment.

Charlotte was, and will be, the heartbeat of our passion, and the conviction that the dignity and health of a human being is their right.

Charlotte, you are the light of our lives.

Thank you for your life, your bravery, and your beautiful soul.

We love you, Charlie.

- Joel, Jared, Jesse, Jon, Jordan, Josh, and Austin Stanley
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell