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

Work From Home Mommy

It’s a snow day here in central Massachusetts. I’ve spent the morning on the phone with some really incredible women involved in the cannabis industry. I’m getting organized for a very eventful February. And I have some very exciting news to share with you in this regard. I was gonna write about all of the above today.

And then this kiddo crawls on to my lap and reminds me that she’s not gonna be this small forever. She will not want to crawl on my lap and give me this look forever. Okay, she might give me this look forever, but it will most certainly mean different things as we progress through this life thing together. Today, she just wants her Mommy to play, to do yoga, and to snuggle. So I’m going to get us bundled up and outside for a little snow play, or a trip to the mall for some non-snow play in the indoor playground. Whatever Little Miss Personality decides. If you were faced with this look, wouldn’t you step away from the laptop and realize that these moments won’t last forever?

As always dear readers, wishing you a bright and beautiful day! Even if the sky won’t stop spewing snowflakes. Lots of them. Much love, many hugs. Namaste ❤

Bridging the Gap: A Green Nurse’s Story of Managing Colitis with Cannabis 


An Overview of Irritable Bowel Disease

Crohn’s disease and colitis are chronic inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract. These diseases can be lumped into the category of irritable bowel disease (IBD). It is estimated that 1.6 million Americans struggle with IBD. Symptoms related to inflammation in the GI tract include abdominal cramps, pain, constipation, diarrhea, urgent need to move bowels, weight loss, fatigue, night sweats. People who experience such symptoms are often greatly debilitated, their quality of life negatively impacted. They become nutritionally depleted, their fluid/electrolyte balance is thrown off. Severe dehydration is common. Basic functioning is severely altered and impaired. And as if these symptoms aren’t enough to cope with, the diseased GI tract often results in an abnormally functioning immune system. People struggling with IBD also tend to struggle with autoimmune symptoms that include fatigue, severe joint pain, skin irritation, and the inability to fend off infections.

Conventional treatment for IBD conditions includes several categories of prescribed medications including antibiotics, aminosalicylates (anti-inflammatory agents), steroids, and immune modifiers that work to suppress the body’s immune response. Over the counter medications may also be a part of the regimen including antidiarrheals, analgesic medications, and nutritional supplements. Managing an IBD condition can be challenging and overwhelming.

Sherri Tutkus, RN — Founder of the Green Nurse Group

Meet Sherri Tutkus — Cannabis Nurse, Cannabis Patient

Sherri Tutkus is no stranger to the debilitating nature of IBD. A registered nurse with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field, Sherri found herself on the other side of the sick bed in 2012. She had contracted a type of acute colitis that is caused by a contagious infectious bacteria. This condition is often an adverse reaction from taking prescribed antibiotics, but she became infected from exposure to this bacteria while she was working. She started with flu-like symptoms such as fevers, sweats, chills and altered bowel patterns alternating between diarrhea and constipation. She developed severe urgency, cramping, had difficulty defecating, and had a feeling that she was retaining stool. A CT scan revealed that her colon was indeed swollen and after a colonoscopy she was diagnosed with pseudomembranous colitis.

As her disease progressed, Sherri experienced pain upon eating, suffered from regular and unpredictable bouts of painful diarrhea. Her belly was distended and filled with air. The abdominal pain she experienced was immense and effected every aspect of her life. She was prescribed the most powerful opioid medications and steroids. She had the strongest IV antibiotics infused to combat her disease. A single mother of three, she was unable to work for months. When attempting to return to work her symptoms would worsen and she would develop another medical problem. Sherri the nurse had become a critically ill patient.

Because of her condition, Sherri experienced significant depression and agoraphobia. She didn’t want to leave her home for fear of not being able to control her bowels. Panic, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and pain were symptoms she experienced regularly. Sherri felt isolated, depressed, and disconnected from her community. She was in a constant state of fight or flight and she continued to struggle with side effects from taking several prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Sherri had exhausted conventional and holistic therapies at that point. She began to experience a cognitive dissonance of wanting to live and die at the same time. Her thoughts scared her and prompted her into seeking out something she hadn’t tried before. She turned to cannabis.

Sherri became a medical cannabis patient in 2014 and started administering cannabis to treat her symptoms and try to wean off of the medications that were causing her side effects. She vaporized cannabis, took tinctures, capsules, and edibles. Her symptoms were improving to the point where she realized “wow, this works!” Through her own trial and error, Sherri was able to wean off of all her IBD meds within 6 months. Sherri had effectively bridged the gap from what she was not getting with her conventional treatment and the holistic therapies that she was utilizing to help herself. Her condition had greatly improved, and she felt connected to her community again.

The Green Nurse Group is Born

Because of everything she had been through, Sherri saw a great need in her community and beyond. Another gap that needed to be bridged. This time for other people. She had to learn how to medicate with cannabis on her own, without anyone to guide her, or help her make informed decisions. It took her a very long time to find what worked for her. Navigating the medical cannabis community can be challenging, and there can be a steep learning curve that patients have to overcome in order to relieve symptoms consistently, effectively, and in a way that doesn’t impair them. Sherri had to learn all of this on her own and felt that cannabis patients shouldn’t have to, especially in the face of debilitating disease which can be overwhelming enough.She founded the GreenNurse™ Group, an action oriented, non-profit organization of dedicated professionals and nurses who seek to relieve suffering via the safe use of medical cannabis and other natural, holistic therapies. The GreenNurse™ Group utilizes a medical-based, patient-first approach. Through their services, they strive to bring the same excellence of trusted, quality nursing care to the medical cannabis industry.

Learn more about the Green Nurse Group at http://www.greennursegroup.com.