In her home state of Texas, 12-year-old Alexis Bortell and her family were given only two options to treat the tween girl’s severe epilepsy; an experimental lobotomy or to accept the debilitating seizures that made Alexis’ days barely worth living. Instead, the Bortell family chose a different option, and moved to Colorado, where access to medical marijuana oils and sprays have completely transformed Alexis’ life. They have reduced her seizures from an everyday occurrence to a series of once-a-monthly pre-seizure auras that, thanks to cannabis, are prevented before they even start.
Now, in conjunction with four cannabis advocate peers, Bortell is at the center of a lawsuit targeting the federal government and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), claiming marijuana’s continued Schedule I status infringes on her constitutional rights.
“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,” Bortell’s attorney, Michael Hiller, told Rolling Stone in a deep dive into the wide-reaching marijuana reform lawsuit. “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.”
Because Bortell cannot travel safely without her cannabis medication, and would be breaking federal and local law any time she crossed state lines, Bortell and her attorney argue that the federal