CMCC is fully dedicated to exploring, advancing and sharing information about the medical applications of cannabis and its derivatives. And while the number of illnesses that may respond to cannabis treatment is large and varied, perhaps no treatment has received as much attention—and inspired as much hope—than the use of CBD (cannabidiol) in lessening the symptoms of epilepsy, particularly childhood epilepsy.
Over 50 million people worldwide (including approximately 300,000 Canadians) suffer from epilepsy, making it among the most common chronic neurological disorders. In about half the cases, the cause is undetermined. Epilepsy can strike at any age, although it shows up most often in children and the elderly.
Epilepsy is not a disease, but a description of the consequences of excessive electrical discharges in the brain, which manifest themselves in multiple seizures. There are many forms of epilepsy and many different types of seizures. This variety has made epilepsy especially difficult to treat, and there is no cure currently available.
In 2013, the first widely publicized effort to treat epilepsy with CBD came with the showing of the CNN documentary ‘Weed.” A portion of the film highlighted the case of Charlotte Figi, whose parents claimed she experienced a significant reduction of epileptic seizures after treating her with an extract high in cannabidiol. The original extract came to be known as Charlotte’s Web. Today, there are many high-CBD extracts available, including those from CMCC members Tilray and The Peace Naturals Project.
Another child with epilepsy was responsible for the idea of Purple Day. In 2008, Nova Scotian Cassidy Megan (now 14) professed a desire for “people around the world to come together and teach others about epilepsy.” On Purple Day, people are invited to wear purple and host events. The initiative has grown to have participants on all continents, including Antarctica.
We at CMCC enthusiastically support efforts to increase awareness of epilepsy and its treatment, and applaud Cassidy’s dedication and accomplishments. Further, since recent evidence of the efficacy of cannabis extracts in reducing the frequency of seizures among those suffering from certain forms of epilepsy appears promising, we strongly favor efforts to pursue clinical research in this area. CMCC members look forward to sharing news of such initiatives in Canada soon.