Programming note: Watch “Weed 5: The CBD Craze” Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.
When we released “Weed” in 2013, few people had ever heard of cannabidiol, or CBD. Now, two-thirds of Americans are familiar with the compound, and 1 in 7 have tried it. Most of the country, 93%, are in favor of medical marijuana and hemp-derived CBD itself, which has less than 0.3% THC, has been legalized in every state.
It’s not just public perception. The science over the last six years has grown by leaps and bounds, as well. Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical-grade CBD oil, went through clinical trials and is being prescribed for thousands of patients with seizures. The founder of GW Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Epidiolex, told me they are now developing cannabis medications for everything from autism to anxiety.
The lives of characters we introduced you to in “Weed” have completely changed, as well. The Stanley brothers of Colorado – who literally bet the farm on CBD and couldn’t even afford a reliable car six years ago – now grow CBD on 800 acres in three states and have a marijuana empire worth an estimated $2 billion.
And Charlotte, sweet Charlotte Figi. Soon after birth, she started having seizures. By age 3, she was having 300 seizures a week, despite having tried more than half a dozen medications. Her mother, Paige, worried her daughter would stop breathing one day or go into cardiac arrest. Charlotte was not expected to live past her 8th birthday. Today, she’s 12, and has only two or three seizures a month, despite being off all of her other seizure medications. The only thing she takes is a CBD oil, called Charlotte’s Web. She represents countless patients who are alive today because of this plant, and this plant alone.
For many in the medical marijuana community, these last few years have been the realization of a dream they never really believed was possible. But, there is a funny thing about dreams. As beautiful as they are, they are often fragile and ready to tear at the seams.