On the eve of what could be a monumental day in Cannabis and American history, the fate of millions of legitimate patients could soon see their freedoms restored. What a sweet victory for a day full of love, February 14, 2018 it could be.
I’m not going to go into the history of the federal prohibition of Cannabis or the controlled substances act of 1970. Instead, let’s focus on the strong charge leading the way to take another stab at the federal government’s unfair, ridiculous and mid-evil laws regarding Cannabis. The case that will go in front of Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein in New York in just a few hours, is expected to give the suit “prioritized attention” which could be the break the medical Cannabis community has been waiting decades to live to see. Literally, live to see… think about that for a minute, because there are countless numbers of people that could have had longer lives, been potentially cured of disease, or lived to see this day. The amount of actual research that could have already been done is all being held up by the Federal Government.
The idea that the U.S. Government should respect “we the people, for the people” has long left the minds of many Americans today, no matter where you come from. We have good reason to be skeptical after all, consider the laws that have threatened lives and the freedoms for Cannabis patients or users for that matter, there simply is no reason to jail or punish someone for choosing to do with their body as they see fit. If tobacco and alcohol can be legal, why not Cannabis? Another example would be the fight for gay marriage in America, if it’s not harming you, why should you care? We need a huge wake up call in this country and we need to all read the Constitution of The United States of America. It’s poetry, brilliant and yes, it’s probably missing some things that we could use in it today. However, it lays the foundation and roots us as Americans and for that it’s great.
Which leads us to the suit that is about to be heard. No matter what the decision, the suit will hold ground in the minds of most of America. This federal lawsuit could ultimately help remove Cannabis from the controlled substances list or be rescheduled.
One of our favorite plaintiffs that is suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is 12-year-old “Texas girl” Alexis Bortell, who suffers from chronic seizures since the age of 7. Alexis is a perfect model of what good activism is all about- standing up and speaking up for your rights.
After several years of failed and destructive pharmaceutical drugs that were intended to help her seizures, the family had to find a way for Alexis to live a normal life. At the age of 9 she and her family were watching the Dr. Sanjay Gupta special titled Weed 2: Cannabis Madness: Dr. Sanjay Gupta Reports. That feature on CNN would encourage them to seek out Cannabis as an option to treat Alexis for her seizures. The challenge that lay ahead would not be a short journey, but for a quarter of her life so far, Alexis and her family are fighting for her ability to use whole plant Cannabis extract oils as her medicine, and it’s proven to be exceptionally effective for her as she hasn’t had a seizure now in over 1000 days according to her interview with CBS in November of 2017. The reporter asked her “Why did you think that people would listen to a 12-year-old?” Alexis doesn’t miss a beat when she replied “Well I feel like it really wouldn’t matter because it’s the right thing to do and I don’t think I need to be over 18 to do the right thing.” Boom, drop mic right there, thank you Alexis!
Twitter: @AlexisBortell – It is almost time. Tomorrow is our day. All of us… I am not suing for money. All I want is freedom to live my life where I want and for the government to get out of MY way. We are standing against medical tyranny.
Alexis is no ordinary little girl, as you will discover watching her speak as early as the age of nine at NORML conferences, protests and various other public speaking opportunities, she hits the microphone prepared, confident and concise. Clearly this girl is very much like her parents- soldiers, Both Dean and Analiza Bortell are veterans of the Navy. If that wasn’t already extraordinary, she wrote a book about medical Cannabis called Let’s Talk About Medical Cannabis. In the book she credits all those that helped her put it together and had it published. I went to the website tonight and it’s sold out!
That’s right a 12-year-old girl, which I’m sure puts a lot of us to shame at that age. I admire Alexis and her family for their strength as a family. Their courage to speak out against these injustices and expose their story so they can help others. It had to be difficult as proud Texans to leave their home and relocate to Colorado in order for Alexis to legally have her much needed medicine. Difficult for a girl that has to leave her friends and family in a state she calls her home. Which leads directly into her complaint for this federal case.
Alexis’s argument to the DOJ and DEA in the lawsuit argues that the federal prohibition of Cannabis (CSA) infringes on her rights to travel (she can’t legally cross state lines with her Cannabis medicine) which is against her Constitutional rights. It’s actually quite simple, but the case has 4 other plaintiffs that also contend that the CSA (controlled substance act) conflicts with state and federal marijuana policy, therefore endangers the plaintiffs’ health, livelihoods and human rights.
Former NFL player Marvin Washington is also suing because the CSA interferes with his business in legalized states, violating the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. I met Marvin a year ago at the Cannabis World Congress Expo and we discussed his passion for Cannabis and how it will change the lives of his former teammates and anyone that is essentially in need of this medicine.
Another plaintiff is the CCA, (Cannabis Cultural Association) they are suing on behalf of minorities across the country who have been targeted by federal authorities for cannabis-related crimes. Which also has standing in many minds, but it will be up to the judge in the morning in New York to decide that the case has merit and standing.
Stay tuned and we’ll be waiting and watching as what could be history in the making. Many have tried, but I’d like to believe that the power of a 12-year-old “Texas girl” as Alexis quite affectionately states in many of her speeches, has a future as a lifelong activist and will grow up to do more of doing the right things at no matter what age.
UPDATE: 2/14/18 1:30pm PST, according to the report posted here: https://www.themaven.net/theweedblog/policies/judge-recognizes-medical-cannabis-works-delays-decision-in-lawsuit-2MOfc94xUEyszbdd8hVOKA . The honorable Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein did appear to recognize the value of the plaintiff’s statements and evidence in the case that Cannabis is successful in treating the needs of the patients that are in this case. He stated that he would need a few days to review the case before giving a decision. This is still very positive news and we will keep you informed when a decision has been given.
UPDATE 2/27/18 – According to the reports coming in through various sources the judge has motioned the case to be dismissed due to what the judge describes as the plaintiffs failed to take the first step by asking the DEA to remove Cannabis from the list of dangerous drugs that they control. If you are reading this and shaking your head back and forth, so are we! After all, it’s not like that hasn’t already been attempted numerous times before. It is totally obvious that the DEA has more to gain by keeping Cannabis on that list with plenty of funding and arrests in the future by keeping it there. One government official or court passes the buck back to the next one and so on and so on. When does this end? It ends perhaps when this argument is taken to the Supreme Court of the US, which according to our young hero Alexis Bortell’s Facebook page, she’s ready!
The press release on 2/26/18:
Official Press Release. We were ready. Smile. We know #SCOTUS is where we are probably going.
Attorneys at Law
600 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10022
For Immediate Release:
Feb. 26, 2018
Statement from Hiller, PC on Landmark Lawsuit Against Jeff Sessions As It Pertains to Constitutionality of Cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act: �Plaintiffs Vow to Appeal, As Judge Dismisses Federal Cannabis Lawsuit
NEW YORK – Today, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Washington, et.al v. Sessions, et.al, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Schedule I classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act.
The plaintiffs, along with Hiller, PC lead counsel Attorneys Michael S. Hiller and co-counsels Lauren A. Rudick and Joseph Bondy, vowed to appeal the lawsuit. The plaintiffs in Washington, et.al v. Sessions, et.al include: Denver Broncos Super Bowl Champion, Marvin Washington; 12-year old girl, Alexis Bortell; seven-year old Jagger Cotte of Georgia, who suffers from Leigh’s Disease; disabled military combat veteran, Jose Belen; and the Cannabis Cultural Association, Inc.
Hiller, PC background and statements on Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein’s decision:
A New York federal district court judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by Marvin Washington, Alexis Bortell and an assortment of other plaintiffs seeking a ruling that the classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug is unconstitutional.
In dismissing the case, Judge Alvin Hellerstein took pains to “emphasize that this decision is not on the merits of plaintiffs’ claim[s].” Instead, Judge Hellerstein decided that the plaintiffs were first required to exhaust administrative remedies – an agency-driven administrative process, during which petitions are filed with and decided by the DEA to reschedule cannabis.
Judge Hellerstein did not appear to address the plaintiffs’ argument, as reflected in a recent filing, that the petitioning administrative process generally consumes an “average of nine (9) years to complete,” and is “overseen by a biased decision-maker (defendant Jeff Sessions), who has pre-determined to reject the evidence before it has even been presented.”
Michael Hiller, Hiller, PC lead counsel for the plaintiffs stated: “Resigning the plaintiffs to the petitioning administrative process is tantamount to a death sentence for those patients who need cannabis to live. The time has come for the courts to abandon decades-old precedent, notched with obsolete legal technicalities, and catch up with modern science and contemporary principles of constitutional law.”
Lauren Rudick, Hiller, PC co-counsel for the plaintiffs, added: “The plaintiffs weren’t the only ones who experienced a setback today. States and principles of federalism took a black-eye as well, and under the false premise that the courts are constrained by prior decisions to take actions, which the overwhelming majority of Americans, including members of Congress and the President, know are wrong.”�
Joseph Bondy, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, commented: “We believe that the court didn’t consider a number of our arguments and declined to hear us at oral argument on some of those points. We are exploring all of our legal arguments in furtherance of winning this case.”
Michael Hiller concluded: “This case will continue to move forward. Notwithstanding the outcome today, we remain confident that the final disposition of this case will include a finding that the classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional – freeing millions of Americans to safely treat their conditions with a plant that maintains their health and their lives.”