As Florida debates medical marijuana, lawmakers consider pot for children

"Charlotte's Web" pot variety used for epilepsy

TAMPA, Fla. - CNN's Sanjay Gupta told the wrenching story of Charlotte Figi  a Colorado toddler who started to have violent, long lasting seizures at three months old.

"They did an EEG and MRI. They did the whole workup and found nothing and sent us home," said Charlotte's mother, Paige.     

The seizures came at a rate of 300 a week and got stronger over the years, taking a toll on Charlotte's growth and speech. When even the most powerful drugs failed to help, her desperate parents turned to a drug that neither parents would consider using themselves: marijuana.

The results were immediate and dramatic.

"She didn't have a seizure that day. And then she didn't have a seizure that night. And the next day and the next day. She would have had a hundred by now," said Figi in the CNN special report on marijuana.

Charlotte never smoked marijuana nor did she get high. Her parents found a local grower who extracted the oil from a strain low in the intoxicating THC and high CBD, believed to be the active ingredient in seizure control. This pot variety is now known as Charlotte's Web.

Some 40 other children in Colorado are being treated with the pot extract, with dozens more on a waiting list. But Charlotte's Web, like all forms of marijuana, is illegal in Florida, and Drug Free America in St. Petersburg wants to keep it that way for now. The group fighting against a move to legalize medical marijuana in Florida believes the risk outweighs the benefits.

"You don't just go out and take anything and everything and create potential more damage," said Calvina Fay, Executive Director of the Drug Free Foundation.

The parents of 8-year-old Rebecca Hyman in Florida are willing to take that risk. Their daughter has the same epileptic disorder as Charlotte Figi. While other families are moving to Colorado, the Hymans are trying to change the law here.

Their story has caught the attention of Democratic State House Representative Katie Edwards who has called for a workshop discussion on "Charlotte's Web" and other medical marijuana issues. The House subcommittee on criminal justice will hold the workshop this Thursday.

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