A twelve-year-old girl with epilepsy is suing the Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Agency to legalize cannabis across the country.
Alexis Bortell developed epilepsy at the age of seven, and FDA-approved medications failed to improve her condition. She suffered from multiple seizures per day, and doctors were considering brain surgery.
“Nothing she tried worked,” the suit, filed in the Southern District of New York, states. But when she tried whole plant cannabis oil, she experienced “immediate relief from her seizures.” She uses a strain called “Haleigh’s Hope,” which comes in the form of liquid THC drops she takes twice a day.
“I’d say it’s a lot better than brain surgery,” she said.
Her family moved from Texas to Colorado so she could access the medicine, and she has been seizure-free for two-and-half years. Her father maintains a five-acre farm of plants the family uses to produce her medicine.
However, Alexis cannot travel to states where the plant is still illegal, including Texas, because she cannot bring her medication with her. She says she would like to attend college in Texas but, as it stands, would be arrested for using cannabis in her home state, as well as many others around the country.
“I would like to be able to visit my grandparents without risking being taken to a foster home,” she also said.
The federal government continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule I drug, a category that denotes “high potential for abuse” and “no currently accepted medical use” despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to demonize the plant, and arrests for cannabis remain staggeringly high despite recent legalization efforts around the country.
“As it pertains to cannabis, the (Controlled Substances Act) is irrational and thus unconstitutional,” Bortell’s attorney, Michael Hiller, told Fox 31 Denver. He added that the government has “made a representation that cannabis has medical application for the treatments of Parkinson`s Disease, HIV-induced dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and yet at the same time the United States government maintains that there is absolutely no medical benefit for the use of cannabis. That is of course absurd.”
Bortell is joined by “another child, a military veteran, a marijuana advocacy group and former Broncos player Marvin Washington, who played on the 1998 Super Bowl-winning team,” Fox 31 summarized.
The federal government has already unsuccessfully attempted to have the case dismissed.
Denver attorney Adam Foster represents cannabis businesses and said it’s unlikely the suit will be successful. “Whenever you sue the government, the deck is really stacked against you,” he said. But he also acknowledged the federal government will likely struggle to prove cannabis has no medical value.
Regardless, the suit highlights the ever-growing wave of opposition to the federal government’s continued war on cannabis, especially in light of the increasing number of Americans who find relief with it.