Austin, Texas | Alexis Bortell is your pretty average kid, except for one thing; she is a 9-year-old medical marijuana advocate.
When Alexis first started having seizures in her south Texas home back in July of 2013, her family knew that the course of her life had just changed. Her father Dean, a disabled Navy veteran said describes the first time she had a seizure, “I look over and Alexis has literally gone vertical. She’s stiff as a board and mom’s holding her. We get her down on the couch and she’s shaking.”
The family rushed Alexis to a nearby hospital where doctors informed the family that she suffers from epilepsy. Alexis was prescribed to some prescription drugs which proved ineffective. It’s not that the medications just didn’t work; Alexis’ dad described her use of the prescription Carbatrol as, “like throwing gasoline on a fire.” Her seizures when from nightly to around-the-clock, giving Alexis spasms, tremors, and altering her bubbly personality.
Doctors confirmed that the medications weren’t right for Alexis and the family weaned her off of them; keeping reserves only for emergency situations.
The turning point for the Bortell family was when they caught a CNN special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta talking about some of the uses of medical marijuana. The non-psychoactive oils and tinctures derived from the cannabis plant are widely known to reduce seizures in patients suffering from epilepsy without the harsh side effects of prescription medications.
Soon after, the Bortell family began consulting specialists and visiting Colorado where access to the non-psychoactive CBD oil is legal. Alexis quickly qualified for a medical marijuana card in the state of Colorado and began taking the cannabis derived medication.
The problem now is that the Bortell family still resides in Texas where the CBD oil is illegal and carries harsher penalties than regular pot due to it’s concentrated form. The family is worried that the penalties for possession of the life-saving medicine could lead to legal issues, especially since they would be crossing state lines with the drug.
“I don’t wanna leave Texas. I’m a Texas girl!”
This hasn’t stopped Alexis and her family though. Alexis has taken to the streets and even started and online campaign to make Texans aware of her dilemma. Alexis and her family recently appeared on local TV stations spreading their message and are publishing Youtube videos to get the word out.
Alexis is hoping to convince Texas residents and lawmakers alike that medical marijuana has a place in Texas. On Tuesday she joined a group of activists at the Texas stated capitol to deliver her message to the state.
For the Bortell family, time is of the essence. If lawmakers can’t make a sensible medical marijuana policy that would help Alexis to experience a bright future, the family will be forced to leave the state. Dean Bortell said, “When the gavel falls in May, we’ll know if we have to leave Texas.”