When Charlotte Figi was born on 18th October 2006 in Denver, Colorado, she and her twin sister were normal, healthy babies.
But at three months old, Charlotte started having seizures.
Her eyes would roll.
She’d foam at the mouth.
And her body would convulse uncontrollably.
At first, one of these seizures would happen every few days.
Typically, it would last maybe half an hour.
But soon she was having them daily and they’d last for hours at a time.
She’d often injure herself during an attack.
And the fit itself would put immense strain on her fragile body.
Pity her poor parents.
They’d make regular dashes to the local ER with their daughter.
And in constant fear that she’d die.
The rare disease affecting 1 in 40,000 children
None of the tests and brain scans Charlotte underwent revealed anything abnormal that could be causing the seizures.
And nothing could be done to stop the attacks.
It was a case of sitting through the seizure until it passed.
And then wait for the next one.
And the next one. And the next, relentlessly and worsening in violence.
Eventually, when Charlotte was about three years old, doctors were finally able to give her condition a name: Dravet’s syndrome.
It’s a severe and very rare form of epilepsy, affecting less than 1 in 40,000 children worldwide.
Around 1 in 28,000 children in the UK have the condition.
Of course, with any medical condition, knowing what you’re dealing with is a major step.
But what you really want is a cure.
And for the illness to go away. Instantly.
That rarely happens with serious conditions like this, of course.
And as Charlotte’s parents discovered at the time, nothing could be done to stop the seizures. The doctors told them that.
Worse, they’d heard that many children with Dravet’s syndrome die in early childhood.
An untreatable curse
Of course, they tried everything they could to try to cure her.
A special low-carb, high-fat diet that’s frequently used to treat epilepsy.
But although it helped control Charlotte’s seizures for a while, they soon returned and got worse.
They tried acupuncture and other alternative treatments, but nothing worked.
And despite being given various hardcore prescription medications, the attacks continued to get worse and more frequent.
It seemed Charlotte was cursed with something that was untreatable and, in all likeliness, fatal.
By the time she was five years old, she was having up to 300 grand mal attacks every week.
And her doctors effectively told them there was nothing that could be done for their daughter.
But then, a glimmer of hope.
One from a most unlikely source.
Pot saves lives
In 2013, the Figis read about various cases where children had been successfully treated for various chronic conditions by using marijuana.
They included a young boy with severe Dravet’s syndrome.
He immediately stopped having seizures after being given marijuana extract.
What if the same treatment could help Charlotte?
Morally, they were against the idea of smoking dope themselves, let alone giving it to their child.
But they were at their wits’ ends.
And the evidence was compelling.
Eventually, after discussing it with doctors and family members, they decided they had nothing to lose by giving it a try.
They’d already had the horrendous experience of witnessing their child flatlining in hospital after a major seizure stopped her heart.
And even their decision to try using marijuana was based on the hope that it could give Charlotte some respite from the seizures they feared were sure to kill her.
As Paige Figi, Charlotte’s mother, explained: “We were using [marijuana extract] as end of life comfort measures.”
They had no idea that by using marijuana, Charlotte would stop having seizures virtually altogether.
And that she would be able to lead a normal life.
Ask them today and the Figis would have no hesitation in telling you that pot saved the life of their child.
By age seven, she was “99% seizure-free”, having just one attack a month which would be under control within minutes.
From being wheelchair bound and unable to walk, eat and swallow or even talk at age 5, she’s now able to do all the things normal kids do.
And it’s all thanks to a strain of medical marijuana that’s hopeless for dope smokers but gold dust to people like Charlotte…
The Frankenstein weed that stoners hate
Time for a quick bit of plant biology.
Marijuana plants contain hundreds of different chemicals, called cannabinoids.
Two of them are very important to different groups of people.
One is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). That’s the psychoactive compound.
It’s the chemical that affects the part of the brain that makes you feel good (theNucleus Accumbens).
THC is the part of the plant that dope smokers are after. It’s the chemical that gets people high.
And the other important chemical in marijuana is cannabidiol (CBD). This is what some people are calling the ‘miracle compound’.
Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. It doesn’t get you stoned.
But it has these amazing medicinal qualities.
It does things to the receptors in the brain that can affect the body’s immune system and help treat diseases and medical conditions.
For example, it’s been found to be therapeutic for many conditions including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, asthma, migraine, Parkinson’s, obesity and many more diverse illnesses.
This special hybrid weed that’s changed Charlotte’s life so dramatically has been bred by mixing different plant types.
A kind of ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ weed.
It’s been created to contain a very small amount of THC and large amount of CBD.
So, it doesn’t get you high, but it does stop seizures.
In fact, it worked so well on Charlotte, the guys who legally cultivate and sell it decided to name this variety of marijuana “Charlotte’s web”.
And now, of course, there is big business in producing and selling plants like this and the extracts from them.
But Charlotte’s just one part of a far bigger story…
A huge trend that’s sweeping the world
Here at Monkey Darts, we’ve been following the legal weed theme for a while now.
We first wrote about it back on 8th December last year but have had an eye on the story for longer than that.
And we continue to keep track of it.
That’s because we believe it’s one of the most important investment themes of our times.
Fortunes have already been made by investors putting a bit of money into pioneering companies involved in the marijuana industry.
And no doubt there are still fortunes to be made if you know where to look.
Not just companies involved in developing cannabis-based drugs. But all throughout the process, too. Like fertiliser producers. Irrigation system makers. Companies that have licences to grow and sell marijuana.
Perhaps you are already involved in some of the companies we’ve told you about or that you’ve learned about through research we’ve directed you to.
And there is plenty more work to be done.
In fact, right now, my colleagues at Canonbury are working hard at researching this space for a brand-new report on legal marijuana.
You should keep a close eye on Monkey Darts in the weeks ahead…
As soon as this report is ready, I’ll be in touch right away with details of how you can download it.
It’s a story that you should keep close tabs on.
Partly because there is genuinely ground-breaking work being done in the medical space. Expect to see fantastic breakthroughs in medicine based on marijuana’s miracle qualities.
And, because if you really want to make money from investing in financial markets, this area of biotechnology is one that could well help you achieve that goal.
US… Canada… and now the UK?
When we covered this theme back in December, we were largely focussing on the story that had been building in the US and the prospects for nationwide legalisation of marijuana in Canada.
In America, on a federal level, marijuana is still classed as a Schedule 1 drug, the same as heroin and coke.
But slowly things are becoming more relaxed at individual state level.
There are now 29 states plus Washington D.C. that have legalised marijuana for medical use.
And there are nine states that have even made it legal to smoke pot recreationally.
This is just the start.
More states will follow as politicians realise that there are not only huge medical benefits from using marijuana, but there are also MASSIVE tax gains to be had from making it legal to use and sell marijuana.
Just in California alone, where they have legalised marijuana, the state expects to take $630 million in taxes on pot sales in the next 12 months.
Other state governors will be looking at that kind of revenue and drooling.
And they’ll all be keeping an eye on their cousins north of the Canadian border, too.
As we reported in Monkey Darts back in December, the Canadians have been planning to make marijuana legal across the board, for medical AND recreational use, for some time…
And as you know if you’ve been following this story, they’ve now done it.
As the BBC reported on Wednesday this week:
“Canada’s parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide.
The Cannabis Act passed its final hurdle on Tuesday in a 52-29 vote in the Senate. The bill controls and regulates how the drug can be grown, distributed, and sold.
Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September.
The country is the second worldwide to legalise the drug’s recreational use.”
Meanwhile, it could be only a matter of time before this sweeping global trend reaches us in Britain.
Like it or not, legal weed is coming
You can’t have missed the moving story last weekend of Billy Caldwell, the UK’s equivalent of Charlotte Figi.
Like Charlotte, Billy is plagued by a severe and debilitating form of epilepsy, suffering as many as 100 seizures a day.
Conventional drugs don’t work on him either.
But the CBD contained in the cannabis oil he’s been using does work.
It stops his seizures within seconds of taking it.
No wonder there was national uproar when the supplies of cannabis oil that Billy’s mother was bringing home from Canada were confiscated at Heathrow Airport last week.
And the story has been thrust centre stage as the Government was shamed into allowing Billy to have his cannabis.
Billy’s case and that of another British child, Alfie Dingley, will be seen as history-making events for the marijuana industry, just as Charlotte Figi’s is.
Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, told MPs it was “time to review the scheduling of cannabis” for medicinal use.
“It has become clear to me since becoming Home Secretary that the position we find ourselves in is not satisfactory. It is not satisfactory for the parents, it is not satisfactory for the doctors and it is not satisfactory for me.”
A multi-billion-pound industry in the making
Right now, marijuana is classed as a Schedule 1 controlled drug.
That means it’s considered to have no medicinal value. Which in turn means it cannot be prescribed by a doctor.
It’s illegal to own it, use it or supply it.
But this review will change that. There is too much compelling evidence from around the world that it DOES have medicinal value for it not to change.
It will become legal, whether some people are against it or not.
And ultimately, you’ll be able to get hold of cannabis-based medicines on prescription for conditions where it’s proven to work like epilepsy.
In fact, there is already one cannabis-derived product that can legally be prescribed. It’s called Sativex and is used to treat multiple sclerosis.
Sativex is made by GW Pharmaceuticals, the British but US-listed company we mentioned last time we wrote about legal marijuana.
And Sativex is just the start. The company has plenty more weed-based products in the research and development.
If they are proven to work, these new products should get approval from the government too.
Given the ground-swelling in the global medicinal weed industry, it’s no wonder GW’s share price is up more than 15-fold over the past five years.
And if the Home Office review of cannabis results in a change to its schedule status so that it can be prescribed, we can expect a lot more biotech companies getting into the medicinal weed space.
Scientists say the medical use of marijuana is an “area of huge untapped potential”.
It could turn into a huge, multi-billion-pound industry for the UK – and an investment theme worth getting involved with.
As for the recreational use of marijuana?
Despite ex-Tory Leader William Hague’s passionate declaration that “the war on cannabis has failed utterly”, the government rejected his call to legalise recreational weed.
But it’s a debate that will always go on.
And even if it seems unlikely a Conservative government will ever make it legal, other parties might.
Over the next few years, the experiment that’s just starting out in Canada will be watched carefully by governments around the world, including ours.
If making recreational marijuana legal has no detrimental effect on Canada’s mental health statistics, as well as reducing drug crime and bringing in huge tax revenues, people might think again about liberalising drug cannabis laws.
In the meantime, the big focus is on the case for medical marijuana.
And if you’re looking to make money from the stock market in the coming years, this is one area that could well help you.
Like I said, keep an eye out for the new legal marijuana report by colleagues at Canonbury are working on…
As soon as it’s ready, I’ll let you know.