After nearly doubling earlier in the year, the number of minors on Colorado's medical marijuana patient registry surged again in September, with the addition of 30 more patients bringing the total number of children registered to 90.
That's according to the most recent data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which oversees the state's medical marijuana registry program. It's the single largest increase of kids with parental approval on the marijuana registry this year. The last update in August showed 60 children on the the registry and generally hovered between 30-40 all year. In March and April, the registry saw its lowest number of minors; but it never dropped below 35 in 2013.
Families with children in need of medical marijuana have made headlines all year for uprooting their families from other states and coming to Colorado to take advantage of the expansive medical marijuana laws.
Parents are also coming to Colorado in search of one of the most coveted strains of medical marijuana available: "Charlotte's Web" -- a high CBD (cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana), low-THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance associated with a "high" sensation) strain developed by the Stanley brothers' Realm of Caring non-profit group.
The parents of 2-year-old Piper Koozer, who was diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome which causes seizures in very young children, moved their family from Knoxville, Tenn., to Colorado to work with the Realm of Caring in search of their special strain of medical marijuana with the hope that it could help treat their daughter's condition, according to Knoxville's WATE-TV.
According to Piper's mom Anne, at one point the young girl was having up to 400 seizures a day, but after just three weeks of marijuana use her seizures decreased.
"We've probably seen the best five days of her life since we've been here, so it gives us a lot of hope for the future," said Annie to WATE-TV.
Paula Lyle, an Ohio mother, moved herself and her daughter to Colorado this year so she should could legally access a high-concentrated form of hash oil that is rich in CBD to help treat her daughter Jordan's Dravet syndrome, a severe form of pediatric epilepsy.
The mother of 3-year-old Landon Riddle moved from Utah to Colorado over a year ago to take advantage of medical marijuana therapy to help treat her son's leukemia. Sierra, Landon's mom, started giving her son liquid forms of both CBD and THC and she told Colorado Springs' KRDO that "within four weeks we could see improvement."
CBD has been found to be effective at treating not just epilepsy but also at stopping metastasis in many kinds of aggressive cancer and at killing cancerous cells found in people with leukemia.
The demand for the high-CBD Charlotte's Web varietal is so high by families with children who have epilepsy that the Realm of Caring Foundation, a nonprofit group that six Colorado brothers founded to distribute their specialized marijuana to in-need patients, can't keep up, 7News reported.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Margaret Gedde, a Colorado Springs pathologist who has recommended children for medical marijuana, told The Gazette. "People will continue to come because it works. Patients are seeing between 50 and 90 percent reduction in seizures with no side effects. That's amazing."
Charlotte's Web is named after 6-year-old patient Charlotte Figi, who suffers from debilitating seizures as a result of a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome -- the marijuana strain recently made headlines when Charlotte's story was highlighted in a CNN documentary.
According to Paige Figi's blog, where she notes that the program was first approved by a team of neurologists and pediatricians, Figi says her daughter's seizures fell from 300 a week to around 3 over an 8 month period. Other benefits:
[Charlotte] is consistently eating and drinking on her own for the first time in years. She sleeps soundly through the night. Her severe autism-like behaviors of self-injury, stimming, crying, violence, no eye contact, zero sleep, lack of social contact ... are a thing of the past. She is clear-headed, focused, has no attention deficit. Charlotte rides horses, skis, paints, dances, hikes. She even has friends for the first time. Her brain is healing. She is healthy. She is happy.
Although the drug appears to be working miracles for so many families, some doctors are still skeptical.
“I worry that we just don’t know enough about it,” said Dr. Sharon Levy, of the Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School, to NBC News. “I think they’re putting their child at risk of long-term consequences of marijuana use that we don’t fully understand.”
But the six Stanley brothers -- Joel, Jesse, Jon, Jordan, Jared and Josh -- carry on with their mission.
"My brothers and I thought that this little-known compound might just be the missing link to provide some validity in the realm of cannabis research and as it turns out we were correct," Josh Stanley said during a recent TEDx talk in Colorado. "Now the plant we had created, while it may have immense medical benefits, completely non-psychoactive... so we named the plant 'The Hippie's Disappointment' [but] it proved incredibly useful to Charlotte."