Twelve-year-old Alexis Bortell of Colorado is unlike most children her age. When she was only 7 years-old, Bortell was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy, a disorder that stems from abnormal brain activity and causes patients to have seizures that cannot be controlled by treatments.
After years of searching for an effective treatment to ease her symptoms, her pediatrician and parents were faced with a choice between brain surgery and cannabis. So, they turned to the alternative medication that was not readily available in their home state of Texas. The family then became medical refugees and moved to Colorado where they could obtain the drug that would ultimately save Bortell's quality of life.
Once she began taking cannabis oil daily and constantly keeping THC spray on her person, her symptoms ceased to exist and have remained seizure-free since starting the treatment three years ago. At 11 years-old, she wrote a book titled "Let's Talk About Medical Cannabis: One of the Earliest Medical Communities Seen Through the Eyes of it's Youngest Advocate."
In which she covers various topics within the cannabis community including years of research backed by experts, the history of marijuana's federal illegality and her personal experiences dealing with legislators while she fights for the right to use this medication.
Now, she's taken her advocacy to a new level by suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions so that other Americans like herself, who rely on medical marijuana, won't have to uproot their lives in order to acquire it and to stop being afraid of being punished by the federal government.
“She just wants to be like everybody else," Alexis’ father, Dean Bortell, told NBC News in an article published Nov. 13. "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."
Although cannabis has helped Bortell in many ways, she is still restricted by federal laws that dictate where she can administer her medication. Her parents are both veterans, but she cannot go onto a military base to partake in programs or utilize benefits offered to her; she also can't visit any national parks, go to Disney parks or visit her grandparents in Texas because these are all places she is prohibited from bringing her THC spray, which she must have on her at all times.
The purpose of the lawsuit she has filed is to provide proof that the Controlled Substance Act, which dictates the federal drug policy, is unconstitutional in relation to cannabis.
Other plaintiffs are the Cannabis Cultural Association; Jagger Cotte, a 6-year-old boy with Leigh syndrome—a neurological condition that causes progressive loss of mental and physical abilities that typically leads to death within two or three years—as well as Jose Belen, a veteran of the United States Army; and Marvin Washington, former NFL lineman for the New York Jets.
Bortell's attorney, Michael Hiller, took on this case in the hopes of giving the plaintiffs, and millions of other American citizens, the ability to live full, healthy and productive lives through easy access to medical marijuana.
To no one's surprise, the Justice Department has filed a memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss the case—probably because they know they don't stand a chance against real people who have reaped the benefits of medicinal cannabis, especially considering the fact that two of them are children.