The Ballad of Alexis Bortell

Imagine you live in Texas. Now imagine you’re a little kid, about nine years old, and you’ve been having severe epileptic seizures since you were seven. You have two or three seizures every week, and nothing that your doctor has prescribed helps. Finally, your doctor suggests a lobotomy to your parents. The best way they can help you, they say, is to remove part of your brain. That’s when your parents decide to take drastic action to intervene. They uproot your family and move to Colorado, where you can have legal access to medicine that will enable you to live a normal life. That’s the story of Alexis Bortell, a precocious 12-year-old girl who has been seizure-free for three years, thanks to the cannabis oil that she takes daily.

So the story had a happy ending, right? Not exactly. Alexis and her family are “medical marijuana refugees” who’ve been forced to leave their home state to protect the well-being of their child. And because Alexis depends on her daily medicine to keep her seizure-free, she can’t leave the state; transporting her medicine across state lines would mean committing a federal felony because cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic. If Alexis and her family went to Disneyland with her medicine, they’d risk being charged with the same crime as a heroin dealer moving junk from Arizona to New Mexico.

“She just wants to be like everybody else,” Alexis’s father, Dean Bortell, told NBC News. “When she grows up she wants to be free to choose where she lives and what she does for a living. She wants to be treated like an American citizen and not just a state citizen. She doesn’t want to have to fear going to jail every time she sees a police officer.”

Alexis’s desire for freedom is the reason that she’s joined other plaintiffs in suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to her attorney, Michael S. Hiller, “the suit aims to prove that the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the statute governing federal drug policy, is unconstitutional as it relates to marijuana.”

If the suit is successful, the results will reach far beyond Alexis and her family. Removing cannabis from Schedule I would mean easier medical access for patients across the country, and the beginning of the end of the prohibition of cannabis in the United States.

At The Green Solution®, we support the efforts of Alexis Bortell and other medical marijuana refugees, and we’ll continue to bring you their stories – even when their struggles are history because prohibition has come to an end.