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A 12-year-old is suing Jeff Sessions to make medical marijuana legal

Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy
Contributing Writer
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Photo: Getty Images)

A 12-year-old Colorado girl believes that medical marijuana should be legal everywhere in the United States. And she just sued U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to try to make that happen.

Alexis Bortell has epilepsy — and uses a cannabis oil called Haleigh’s Hope to manage her seizure disorder. Having suffered from seizures since the age of 7, Bortell and her family moved to Colorado so that she could be prescribed and take medical marijuana legally. Since her treatment began, Bortell has not had a seizure in three years. In addition to cannabis oil, Bortell also keeps a THC spray on her at all times, a kind of “rescue inhaler” to stop an oncoming seizure should she detect the warning signs — seeing spots — that indicate a seizure is coming.

In her suit, Bortell claims that the Controlled Substances Act as it pertains to marijuana is unconstitutional. She is joined in her suit by three other co-plaintiffs — a football player, an Army veteran, and a 6-year-old boy with Leigh syndrome. All the co-plaintiffs use marijuana to manage serious medical conditions. As the suit explains, the Controlled Substances Act bars the use of drugs categorized as “schedule one” by the federal government from use on federal property. Which means that Bortell, whose parents are both veterans, cannot visit a military base or even a national park. The law also means she can’t visit places like Disney World, because if she travels to a state where medical marijuana is not legal, her parents could stand to lose custody of their daughter for bringing the controlled substance into the state.

The Bortell family isn’t the only family currently living under the constraints of federal laws when it comes to marijuana usage or that has been forced to uproot their lives to give their children access to the treatment they need. Earlier this year, Yahoo spoke with the Selmeski family, who moved to Colorado from Tennessee so that their 4-year-old daughter, Maggie, could access another strain of cannabis oil known as Charlotte’s Web for the treatment of her intractable epilepsy.

As Heather Jackson, the CEO and founder of Realm of Caring in Colorado Springs, Colo. — a nonprofit that provides research, education, and advocacy support for medical marijuana users and their families — told Yahoo Lifestyle earlier this year, “We are in the pioneering phase of using cannabis with children … even though there is documented medicinal use of the plant with epilepsy for over 2,000 years. We are only now discovering the true potential of a virtually nontoxic option, while collecting more solid data and research in the last 40 years — particularly the last five years, when families like the Selmeskis have brought to light the need to have common sense and compassion-based conversations on the topic.”

Jackson concluded, “It is hard to imagine that in 2017, our ZIP code dictates and prohibits us from caring for our loved ones in the most compassionate way.”

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