COLORADO: She was 5 when the Figis learned there was nothing more the hospital could do.
That’s when Paige decided to try medical marijuana. But finding two doctors to sign off on a medical marijuana card for Charlotte was no easy feat. She was the youngest patient in the state ever to apply.
Scientists don’t fully understand the long-term effects early marijuana use may have on children. Studies that show negative effects, such as diminished lung function or increased risk of a heart attack, are primarily done on adult marijuana smokers. But Charlotte wouldn’t be smoking the stuff.
Childhood is also a delicate time in brain development. Preliminary research shows that early onset marijuana smokers are slower at tasks, have lower IQs later in life, have a higher risk of stroke and increased incidence of psychotic disorders, leaving some scientists concerned.
Is medical marijuana safe for children?
“Everyone said no, no, no, no, no, and I kept calling and calling,” Paige said.
She finally reached Dr. Margaret Gedde, who agree to meet with the family.
“(Charlotte’s) been close to death so many times, she’s had so much brain damage from seizure activity and likely the pharmaceutical medication,” Gedde said. “When you put the potential risks of the cannabis in context like that, it’s a very easy decision.”
The second doctor to sign on was Alan Shackelford, a Harvard-trained physician who had a number of medical marijuana patients in his care. He wasn’t familiar with Dravet and because of Charlotte’s age had serious reservations.
“(But) they had exhausted all of her treatment options,” Shackelford said. “There really weren’t any steps they could take beyond what they had done. Everything had been tried — except cannabis.”