There's a certain shock value that comes with discovering there's a marijuana treatment for sick children, but, a variety of the plant is now available for ill youngsters. Before you freak out, there isn't some horrible drug den in Colorado where kids can toke up at will. In fact, this version isn't even inhaled.
Charlotte's Web (CW), a shorter, slowly grown version of marijuana, is rich in cannabidiol (CBD), but low (about 0.5%) in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the component that gives users a high. Grown in an undisclosed location in Colorado by the Realm of Caring Foundation, CW is in high demand for children with epilepsy. So high, in fact, that families are on waiting lists to receive it.
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To create the drug, the buds and leaves are removed from the stems of the plant and soaked in grain alcohol to extract the cannabinoids. Don't worry, a rotary evaporator used later in the process removes all alcohol. The result is a gummy-like substance similar to syrup, which can be dispensed to patients by the spoonful.
So, how effective is it? One of Realm's first patients, Charlotte, was just one when she was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome. And, just a year and a half later, her doctor had exhausted all medical option to repress the 300 seizures per week she was having. Once Charlotte began taking CW, she was seizure-free for seven days, and has experienced one to zero seizures per week for the past eight months. As you may have guessed, Charlotte's success with the drug inspired the plant's namesake of Charlotte's Web.
Realm says CW causes "no psychoactive effect." And, the process for extracting the CBD is not only carefully regulated by Realm's staff, but Margaret Gedde, a local physician who tracks children using CW, supports the company. "They grow it safely and test the batches so we know the actual milligrams and it can be accurately dosed," Gedde explains.
The only remaining issue - aside from the price of producing CW, since it's sold to families nearly at cost - is completely mental: Society must grapple with the idea that marijuana can be safely and effectively dispensed in lieu of more traditional medication, while offering a child the chance at a fulfilling life who may not have had one without it.
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