An 11-year-old North Texas girl who had to flee to Colorado is now suing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Administration to legalize medical cannabis.
"I just want kids like me to be able to do what normal kids are able to do,” said Alexis Bortell in a Skype interview from her new home in Colorado.
Alexis lived in Rowlett until two years ago. Pharmaceuticals couldn't stop her crippling seizures, so her family packed up and moved to Denver where they discovered medical marijuana is the only thing that could help their oldest daughter.
It’s not the kind of medical marijuana that’s smoked but rather a blend of THC and CBD cannabis oil.
“I haven’t had a seizure in 866 days,” said Alexis.
She's one of several plaintiffs asking a federal court in New York to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug and essentially legalize it as medicine.
It's hardly the first suit of its kind since the Controlled Substances Act took effect in 1971, but Alexis’ attorneys are hopeful now that states are legalizing it and public opinion is shifting.
"This is the first lawsuit of its kind in the sense that we are making arguments under the 5th Amendment due process clause, we are making arguments under the commerce clause, we are making arguments under the 10th Amendment,” explained attorney Michael Hiller.
He promised new evidence and new arguments when hearings get scheduled in the coming weeks and months.
"Don't take this wrong. I think this is going to go up in smoke like the rest of them, but it's worth a try,” explained Aaron Wiley, Lackey Hershman, LLP, a former federal prosecutor.
Wiley said he doubts Alexis can win but said she still has a shot.
"You get people talking, that's what can move things. Because now you can move it to your legislators. Now they can start to think well, 'do I want to get re-elected?' If you can get a groundswell, that's what they're really hoping for," said Wiley.
"For me, my grandparents live in Texas and I can go there, but I can't stay the night with them. I can't have my medicine in Texas,” added Alexis.
She is unable to visit her grandparents and uncertain if she can take a class trip to Washington, D.C.
For now, the 11-year-old activist is cornered in Colorado and hoping a court finally allows her to travel with that controversial medicine.