University of Colorado studying effect of medical marijuana on epilepsy

One of the more common cop-outs lawmakers make when approached about marijuana legalization occurs when legislators claim there “isn’t enough scientific evidence” regarding marijuana’s medicinal benefits. With more substantial studies and evidence about the true medical powers of marijuana, that point will lose any validity.

Now, the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus aims to add another nail to prohibition’s coffin with a new clinical trial. The study will attempt to show a genetic reason for the efficacy of medical marijuana in treating a severe seizure disorder affecting children.

The University titled the study, “Genetic Analysis Between Charlotte’s Web Responders Versus Non-Responders in a Dravet Population” and they are currently in the process of gathering 150 patients who will make up the study group. Children affected by Dravet Syndrome have a genetic mutation causing dozens of seizures a day in cases like that ofCharlotte Figi.

Last year, CNN Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta profiled Charlotte and her parents’ fight against the debilitating disorder in a special called “WEED”. They told their story of how a strain of marijuana came to be named for Charlotte after it showed great success in preventing her seizures. Charlotte’s Web marijuana is turned into concentrated oil that can be taken by patients in the form of a pill.

Dr. Edward Maa, an assistant professor of medicine at the CU School of Medicine and chief of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Programs at Denver Health, recently explained the study’s importance.

“The more data we are able to collect in a large sample, the closer to the truth we will get,” says Maa. He says the study could allow children with Dravet Syndrome to be genetically screened before taking Charlotte’s Web so parents could know ahead of time if their children would benefit.

“Do you uproot and move your entire family to not have an effect? I think this could be very helpful to answer this question,” says Maa. []

Rather than administering the marijuana compound to participants, Dr. Maa’s team will study the “genetic differences between patients” who have responded well to highly-concentrated CBD treatment and those who did not. He says that this could help determine what factors make marijuana an effective medical treatment; information that is sorely lacking.

Dr. Maa calls an interventional study with participants using the compound and researchers studying the effects directly “the Holy Grail.” Unfortunately, trail-blazers like Dr. Sue Sisley, formerly of the University of Arizona, highlight the red-tape nightmare that studies like that create. One that led to the loss of her job and research grant., an online service provided by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, reveals that the University of Colorado is not the only organization studying the efficacy of CBD in treating Dravet Syndrome. GW Research Ltd has at least four studies in the works with the same goal, though they have not begun participant recruitment.

This article was originally published by

Published by P. Aiden Hunt

Aiden Hunt is a creative writer and freelance journalist covering marijuana policy and other related issues. He has been published in print and online by outlets such as The Denver Post (The Cannabist),, The Hemp Connoisseur Magazine and Cronic Magazine. He is currently focused on literary creative nonfiction.

%d bloggers like this: