Unexpected death of Charlotte Figi sends emotional rift through the cannabis industry


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

In loving memory of Charlotte figi; finally, she “is seizure-free forever.”

These were the words of the 13-year-old’s mother, who recently announced that her beloved daughter had passed away in her arms on April 8, 2020.

Figi was hospitalized with pneumonia at the start of this month, amid the coronavirus outbreak that has caused respiratory failure in thousands of people around the world. After contracting pneumonia, the teenager’s seizures resurfaced. As a result, she fell into a cardiac arrest and died from respiratory failure.

The young icon of medical cannabis was aged just three months when she endured her first seizure. After being diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome, her parents chose to medicate with medical cannabis. A meeting in 2012 with the Stanley brothers led to a collaboration for the development of a high-CBD, low-THC cannabis oil. It was named after Charlotte.

In loving memory of Charlotte Figi: Stanley brothers pay their respects with heart string-tugging social media post

Austin, Jared, Jesse, Joel, Jon, Jordan and Josh are the seven brothers who rose to fame with their acclaimed brand, Charlotte’s Web CBD. The namesake company was founded in 2014, after young Charlotte experienced significant relief from her seizures with their cannabinoid combination; seizures dropped from one every half an hour, to none for several days after using the oil.

The Stanley Brothers realized that other young epilepsy patients could benefit, just like Charlotte had benefited. With their vision in mind, they began breeding a unique strain of hemp-classified cannabis containing a low psychoactive composition that they called “Charlotte’s Web CBD oil.” Saddened by the news of her passing, the brothers recently unleashed their grief online.

“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. Her story built communities, her need built hope, and her legacy will continue to build harmony. She was a light that lit the world,” wrote the Stanley brothers on their official website.

They were introduced to the young girl by CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Gupta was largely responsible for the major exposure that Charlotte’s battle with epilepsy received. In 2013, a year before the brand was founded, he released a multi-part documentary special called “Weed” that highlighted the inspirational human being’s journey using CBD to treat epilepsy. He even admits that her case changed his mind on the subject of legal cannabis.

“Charlotte Figi was more than an individual, she was an entire movement wrapped up into a sweet girl with a big smile and an even bigger heart,” said the doctor in a tribute on April 9. “She made me realize that it would not just be a medical failing but a moral failing if this medicine was somehow withheld from people.”

In loving memory of Charlotte Figi: Tributes pour in from cannabis community members

Charlotte Figi’s death may have left a gaping hole in the medical cannabis community/CBD culture that has proliferated across the United States and the rest of the world, but her legacy will certainly not be forgotten. Various respected members of the cannabis community expressed their devastation upon hearing about the loss. Highlighted below are a few tributes:

  • “In a modern era defined by our need to breathlessly grasp onto pre-existing beliefs, Charlotte Figi changed minds globally just by living her life; a life that was radically transformed by medical cannabis. Charlotte’s astonishing life story brought so much hope and change to patients across the globe and it also legitimized medical [cannabis] and forced the world to pay attention. She will forever be remembered as a pioneer whose brave life rewrote the definition of medicine.” — Ricardo Baca, CEO & Founder, Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency.
  • “Although I never met Charlotte personally, she is without a doubt an undeniable spirit and catalyst for the entire CBD movement.” — Morris Beegle, President & Co-Founder, We Are For Better Alternatives (WAFBA)
  • “Charlotte Figi was a little girl who had a huge impact. If not for Charlotte, hemp might still be illegal to grow in the United States, and millions of people around the world who suffer from epilepsy might not have access to CBD.” — Martin A Lee, Director, Project CBD & Author, Smoke Signals.
  • “Charlotte Figi was an activist who forever changed the stigma associated with cannabis use. Putting a 13-year-old on the cover of High Times had never been done, but she was just as, if not more deserving than anyone who had previously graced our cover over the past 45 years of its cannabis legalization history.” — Adam Levin, Executive Chairman, High Times.
  • “When someone so young, innocent and vulnerable is able to live a real seizure-reduced life because of this plant, it could not be ignored by scientists and humanitarians alike. She lived a better life with cannabis, period. The grief over her passing has swept over the cannabis community like wildfire because she became more than a little girl, she became a beacon of hope to so many suffering that there was a chance they could stop suffering as well.” — Rick Batenburg III, CIO, Clear Cannabis Inc. & Cannabis Venture Capitalist.

Rest in peace, Charlotte Figi. Your absence will be as significant as the impact you’ve had on so many people’s lives.

In loving memory of Charlotte Figi (pictured)