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From dozens of seizures a day to 33 straight days seizure free with medical marijuana

Alexis Bortell 3-31-15Alexis Bortell, a 9-year-old girl from Texas, has had to move to Colorado in order to seek treatment for her seizures through medical marijuana. She had been on her new medicine for 33 days without experiencing any seizure symptoms.

The streak ended after a minor three minute seizure the other morning. It happened while Alexis had a cold.

Her father, Dean Bortell, says that her longest good ‘streak’ on pharmaceuticals was a couple of days. “We thought if we could get down to one ‘episode’ a week it would be a miracle. Monday marks four weeks and zero symptoms. We are completely amazed,” Dean states. “It is important to note that this ‘symptom elimination’ has been achieved using Haleigh’s Hope and THC oil with zero side effects.”

Haleigh’s Hope is a strain of concentrated cannabis which has been extremely effective at helping to manage epilepsy symptoms. The family has also been dosing Alexis at lower level, meaning that she had experienced such a success while not even taking full doses.

Asked whether Alexis will ever be able to live in Texas again, Dean says that depends entirely upon whether or not Texas passes a comprehensive medical marijuana law which would allow her to access the medicine she needs to ensure her quality of life.

“Even if the medical hemp bills pass, which are CBD-only, Alexis and many other refugees will not be able to return home,” he says. “Her dosage (ratio) is 15 parts CBD to 1 part THC. The medical hemp oil bills only allow ratios down to 20:1. Coming back to Texas with Alexis and her medicine would be an immediate felony punishable by up to life in prison.”

THC is the active ingredient in cannabis which produces the high. CBD is a separate compound found in marijuana, however it does not induce a high. Both compounds have been found to hold medicinal benefits, and are especially effective when combined together in measured doses.

Medical marijuana, both CBD and THC, in liquid form.
Medical marijuana, both CBD and THC, in liquid form.

Dean says his daughter is essentially confined to medical marijuana states, and only those states who have reciprocity laws which accept medical patients and their medicine from other states.

“It isn’t just medical states,” he says. “They must be medical and have reciprocity to other medical states for her to visit. They must also border Colorado because she can’t fly with her medicine and she can’t drive across a state not meeting these criteria.”

The Bortells pay $150.00 for a 40 day supply of Haleigh’s Hope. Their batch is 26:1 native ratio CBD:THC. They also have to buy a bottle of THC and use that to mix it down to 20:1 during the day and 15:1 at night. “It takes a tiny amount so the THC isn’t a monthly cost. It costs 70 dollars a bottle but one bottle will likely last nearly a year so the monthly cost is minimal for the THC,” Dean says.

He fears bringing insurance into the equation though, saying “I am afraid that if the insurance companies get involved the unnecessary red tape could actually drive up costs or drive down quality. I would rather see bills pass that allow people to make their own oil safely or designate a caregiver to do it for them. The free market that exists here in Colorado is helping keep costs down.”

Both Dean and Alexis have spoken to legislators about her plight, and Dean says that he would encourage them to learn more for themselves.

“If you haven’t traveled to a state with a good medical program (like Colorado) then you owe it to your constituents to make the trip. After witnessing the miracles cannabis can perform first-hand I think that once legislators make an attempt to educate themselves about this medicine there is no other vote they could cast other than ‘Yes’.”

Dean plans to attend the hearings for medical marijuana once they get scheduled in committee. It is also his hope that “Alexis can arrange travel into Austin early one day and out that afternoon so she can medicate before the flight and then after upon her return to Denver. Then she could legally testify in person and not worry about CPS.”

If Alexis travels, Deans says that she will bring her emergency prescription rescue medication just in case.

Alexis feeling better with her friend Barbara (left) and her mother (right).
Alexis feeling better with her friend Barbara (left) and her mother (right).

“I wish the answer was simpler but we have to remember that she doesn’t trust her former state representative not to pull some stunt if she were to return to testify. She fears him so ultimately the decision will be hers if all logistical road blocks get removed.”

Dean is referring to Rep. Scott Turner, a businessman and former NFL player who was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in November 2012. He represents House District 33 which encompasses all of Rockwall County and portions of Collin County just northeast of Dallas.

The Bortells had previously met with Rep. Turner and they say the experience wasn’t very good, as Turner has stated that he opposes medical marijuana and supports the continued criminalization of patients who consume cannabis.

“She is afraid he would call the police on her if he found out she was in Texas to visit or testify since what she is taking in Colorado is illegal in Texas.”

“The fact she fears her government and/or it’s agents because she is sick may be the real tragedy in all of this. I am sure she isn’t alone in her fear. There are many other patients who live every day of their life in fear. As a veteran I am ashamed that our nation’s government allows patients to be locked up in for-profit prisons for a plant that really can work what seems like miracles. We have to be better people than that and I think most of us are.”

By: Stephen Carter

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**Updated to reflect the 33 days before having a seizure.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a 30 year old journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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