Healing is a Constitutional Right

How Alexis Bortell Could Improve the Lives of Medical Cannabis Patients by Suing AG Jeff Sessions

Alexis Bortell — Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Alexis Bortell is a medical cannabis patient, an activist, an advocate, and an author. She also happens to be a 12 year old girl who will stand up to the unconstitutionality of current federal cannabis laws in a really big way on February 14, 2018. But first, some background on this remarkable young person.

According to her book, “Let’s Talk About Medical Cannabis” which is co-authored by Alexis, her sister Avery, and their parents — Dean and Analiza Bortell — Alexis started to experience seizures that were resistant to every treatment recommended and prescribed by her doctors. She was 7-years-old when the seizures began. For two years, she struggled with poorly controlled seizures, awful side effects from the litany of pharmaceutical medications she was prescribed, regular testing, and frequent emergency trips to the hospital. Traditional medical treatments failed to keep Alexis’s appropriately named “seizure monster” at bay. So her family turned to the last “safe” option on the table — medical cannabis. The other option was an experimental lobotomy. Her family opted to go with the cannabis therapy instead of the partial brain removal procedure.

Fortunately, the medical cannabis worked. Cannabis immediately relieved the symptoms of Alexis’s intractable epilepsy. Unfortunately, the CBD-only products that were available in her home state of Texas were ineffective in preventing the “seizure monster” from rearing its ugly head. While taking the CBD-only products, Alexis would not experience a seizure for a few days, but then her seizure monster would show up. Turns out, Alexis required whole- plant medical cannabis to eliminate her seizures completely. She required a full spectrum of cannabinoids, including THC — the well-known psychoactive cannabinoid, to adequately treat her condition. She has not suffered a seizure in over three years as a result of using whole-plant medical cannabis.

Unfortunately, whole-plant medical cannabis is illegal in the Bortell’s home state of Texas. The state makes no distinctions between patients who need this medicine like Alexis, and drug-offender criminals. The aptly named war on patients is very real in Texas. Because Alexis is a minor, her parents risked being arrested and prosecuted for drug possession of an illegal substance. They also risked losing their parental rights. But without whole-plant medical cannabis, Alexis would have a seriously compromised and limited life. Her seizure monster would always be threatening its return. She would not be able to thrive in the way that medical cannabis allows her to do. The Bortell family had no choice but to uproot and move to the state of Colorado where Alexis could access the whole-plant medicine that she needs to live a full and functional life. And so, the Bortell family became medical marijuana refugees.

Medical marijuana refugees endure great sacrifices to access medical cannabis

Medical marijuana refugees comprise a growing community of people who move to states that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis programs. Not because they really want to leave everything they know, but because they, or their loved ones require cannabis to treat chronic conditions that are resistant to traditional treatments. The sacrifices they endure are extensive. Many families in the Bortell’s situation have to agree to not only start over in a new location — new jobs, new schools, new communities — they also have to agree to protect their family by abiding by federal law that greatly prohibits them from living a completely free life. In fact, many families are broken up in separate locations just so a struggling family member can access the medical cannabis that they need to function.

Due to the federally illegal status of cannabis, medical marijuana refugees are often unable to move about the country without breaking the law. For one thing, medical cannabis patients may not be able to access the whole-plant medical cannabis they need to control their symptoms in other states, even if the states have medical or adult use programs intact. The other issue, traveling across state lines with cannabis is illegal. So medical marijuana refugees and their families are forced to stay in the state they’ve sought refuge in, essentially imprisoning them.

Nixon-era laws that don’t make sense

According to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, cannabis is a federally illegal substance. The CSA specifies that cannabis is a Schedule 1 substance with no medical benefit that is also highly addictive. Cannabis shares this schedule with heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. It is federally illegal to use, sell, or possess cannabis for any purpose. However, there are over 2 million state-legal cannabis patients in the United States according to the Marijuana Policy Project. A significant figure for a substance that supposedly carries no medical benefit.

Marvin Washington et. al. versus Jeff Sessions et. al.

Here’s where Alexis Bortell will really impress you. Because of her limitations — not being able to travel out of Colorado, potentially not being able to access free college tuition offered through her home state of Texas’s Department of Education, and not being able to take advantage of her veteran father’s military health benefits due to the medicine that sustains her being federally illegal, Alexis is one of several plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the United States of America. She is joined by former NFL player Marvin Washington, a 6-year-old boy with Leigh’s disease, a disabled combat veteran who cannot use his federal medical benefits to access medical cannabis to treat PTSD, and the Cannabis Cultural Association — an organization that represents people of color who have been negatively impacted by marijuana policies as a direct result of the Nixon-era CSA being steeped in racism. Their main claim? The Controlled Substances Act and the Schedule 1 status of cannabis is unconstitutional, citing the no person can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process. But according to the CSA, using whole-plant medical cannabis is against the law which effectively deprives people like Alexis and her plaintiff cohorts of this constitutional right.

Her day in court

Alexis Bortell will not be in the New York courtroom on February 14, 2018 because of the aforementioned travel restrictions. Her father Dean Bortell will represent his incredible daughter in her day in court. A day that could improve Alexis’s life, as well as the lives of millions of people who require cannabis to live a quality life freely. If anyone can make the United States of America rethink and amend the antiquated cannabis laws, it’s Alexis Bortell.

Learn more about Alexis and the rest of the Bortell family — https://www.alexisbortell.com/

Read about Marvin Washington et. al. v. Jeff Sessions et. al. –https://www.scribd.com/document/355368626/Marvin-Washington-et-al-v-Jeff-Sessions-et-al

One comment

  1. Wow, that’s an amazing story, thank you for writing about it. I certainly was not aware of the upcoming case. Rooting for Alexis and the other plaintiffs. It is a shame that THC is still classed the same as Heroine, Cocaine, PCP.

    Like

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