As an advocate of CBD and, more important, as the mother of two young daughters, I was heartbroken to read of the recent death of Charlotte Figi, the Colorado girl who inspired the CBD movement.

Charlotte died on April 7 at the age of 13, likely due to complications of the coronavirus.

The death and loss of a child is frequently called the ultimate tragedy, and I can’t even imagine what the parents of this brave young girl must be going through.

Of all the people who have influenced our changing perceptions of CBD, perhaps none was more influential than Charlotte.

She became the namesake for the Charlotte’s Web line of CBD products grown in her home state of Colorado. And she helped launch a movement that has led to sweeping changes in the laws governing CBD and marijuana across the globe.

“Your work is done Charlotte, the world is changed, and you can now rest knowing that you leave the world a better place,” the Realm of Caring Foundation, an organization co-founded by Charlotte’s mother Paige Figi, wrote on Instagram.

Charlotte Figi’s Incredible Story with CBD

When she was just three months old, Charlotte was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare and debilitating form of epilepsy. She suffered hundreds of small and large seizures each day. Big Pharma’s drugs did nothing to alleviate her condition. By the age of 5, Charlotte struggled to walk and talk and required a feeding tube.

Paige Figi heard about a California family who treated their child’s seizures with oil from cannabis and began to research. Soon after, she contacted Joel Stanley, a medical marijuana dispensary-owner in Colorado, who developed a CBD-rich strain of cannabis. 

Once Charlotte Figi began taking CBD oil, her seizures were reduced dramatically and Paige was able to wean her off anti-epileptic drugs. She was able to walk, play and feed herself. Her story was featured in newspaper stories around the world and drew the attention of leading researchers. In her honor, Joel Stanley named his CBD product Charlotte’s Web.

In recent weeks, Charlotte’s entire family was sickened with fever, coughing and breathing difficulties that sent her to the hospital. Charlotte tested negative for COVID-19 and was discharged, but suffered a seizure that resulted in respiratory failure and cardiac arrest. She was readmitted to the hospital, where she eventually succumbed to her illness.

“Her fighting spirit held out as long as it could and she eventually passed in our arms peacefully,” Paige Figi wrote.

Charlotte’s Enduring Legacy

Charlotte’s story captured the world’s imagination in 2013, when she appeared in a documentary by CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The documentary was a revelation for families across the world whose children suffered from Dravet and similar conditions. Charlotte’s story inspired hundreds of families to move to Colorado to treat their children under the state’s medical marijuana laws.

The medical marijuana movement Charlotte Figi inspired soon swept the country and the world. And her parents became outspoken advocates for legalizing CBD.

Today, 47 states now allow the sale of CBD products and hemp is now legal in all 50 states. Charlotte’s story shows the world that far from being street drugs used by addicts, CBD and medical marijuana are natural healing solutions whose near-miraculous powers can benefit people suffering from a variety of medical conditions.

In a tribute posted on the Charlotte’s Web website, Joel Stanley wrote, “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.”

Can CBD Help with Grief?

Having never experienced the loss of a child, I can’t even pretend to understand what Charlotte’s parents must be going through during this sad time.

But I know that grief can provoke a range of complex and potentially debilitating emotions, including anger, depression, sleeplessness and even physical pain and illness.

Among the most common side effects of the grieving process is the body’s release of the stress hormone, cortisol. This leads to feelings of high anxiety, panic attacks, and extreme emotions. It can also compromise the immune system and cause physical inflammation and pain.

Knowing how CBD interacts with the body, it makes sense that it can ease the symptoms brought on by grief.

We know that CBD is found to reduce pain and inflammation, ease anxiety, relieve panic attacks and promote better sleep. In my own experience, CBD helps calm my nerves and get much-needed sleep during periods of extreme stress and anxiety.

CBD may not be a cure-all, and its effects vary from person to person. During periods of extreme darkness, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But CBD may just be enough to help us remember that the light is still there.