Twelve-year-old Alexis Bortell is one of five plaintiffs currently suing the federal government over the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which classifies cannabis as illegal.
You see, Bortell uses a cannabis oil, which she takes orally by syringe twice a day, called Haleigh’s Hope to prevent life-threatening epileptic seizures (she also keeps a THC spray on hand in case she experiences an aura or pre-seizure event). When she and her family lived in Texas they were unable to manage her seizures so her doctors recommended an experimental lobotomy. Deciding that giving their daughter cannabis would be preferable to removing a portion of her brain, the family moved to Colorado.
Her team, Michael Hiller, Lauren Rudick, Joseph Bondy, and David Holland, filed a complaint in September to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The lawyers, all members of the New York Cannabis Bar Association, are working the case pro bono and hope to see marijuana descheduled under federal law. If this happens, it will change millions of people’s lives for the better.
Speaking about her case, one of Bortell’s lawyers, Michael Hiller said,
“This is not just a case about the CSA. This is a civil rights case that focuses on the rights of individuals using life-saving medication to preserve their lives and health. It’s not just about cannabis, it’s about people’s ability to exercise their rights to free speech, to petition the government for a redress of grievances under the First Amendment, the right to travel, the fundamental right to be left alone and the right against Congressional overreach.” 1
The truth is, we have used cannabis medicinally and functionally for thousands of years. In fact, the founding fathers wrote the Constitution on hemp paper and pharmacists sold marijuana tinctures over the counter! It wasn’t until the later 1930’s when Harry Anslinger “drafted the Marihuana Tax Act, imposing criminal penalties on the possession, production, and sale of cannabis, and commencing the modern-day War on Drugs.”2
But that’s not even the only reason this law is pure foolishness:
“The government has a patent on cannabis for the treatment of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, HIV-induced dementia and autoimmune disorders. And under U.S. patent law, you can’t apply for a patent unless you can demonstrate some form of the utility of whatever you’re seeking a patent for.
‘The government has obtained a patent for cannabis based on the fact that it works,’ says Hiller. Moreover, since 1978, the federal government has been sending joints to medical patients as part of an IND (Investigational New Drug) program, only to find that cannabis alleviated symptoms for these 15 participants without serious side effects.”3
This past September, Bortell- whose lawyers have called her incredibly intelligent and articulate- received an invitation from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) to lobby her representatives in Washington D.C. However, given the fact that Bortell can’t go anywhere without her cannabis she wasn’t able to go, lest she commit a federal felony by transporting a Schedule I narcotic across state lines. So, she Skype’d the meeting instead.
The defendants of the lawsuit, Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice, Chuck Rosenberg, acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA, and the United States of America, planned to file a motion to dismiss on October 13th.
Currently, 29 states and three territories all allow some form of cannabis to be used medicinally or recreationally. We cannot wait to watch as this trial unfolds and will update you as more information becomes available.