There was a lot of energy in Fort Worth, Texas the last weekend of February. Not only were presidential candidates on the campaign trail in town, but more important, the first-ever Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo in the state of Texas.

Thousands of people were present each day for the conference, eager to hear industry professionals, doctors, patients, scientists, parents, former athletes, and politicians speaking on medical cannabis breakthrough research and also giving testimonials. Many people were looking to get into the cannabis industry, and professionals were in attendance offering to help.

Welcome home

The biggest story of the weekend was: Little Alexis got to come home! Alexis Bortell is a 10-year-old medical refugee from Fort Worth. She developed epilepsy at age seven, and after traditional pharmaceuticals were not helping, and actually were harming Alexis, her parents made a wrenching decision. They uprooted the family and moved to Denver, leaving behind several acres, a beautiful home, friends, family, and a lifetime of memories.

This was not an easy move for anyone involved but they wanted what was best for their little girl. By the time they got to Denver, Alexis was able to visit doctors and obtain a prescription for full-spectrum medical cannabis extract.

CBD is good—but patients deserve more

Texas recently passed a CBD (cannabidiol)-only law, which does not help patients like Alexis. Her epilepsy does not respond to CBD by itself; as in many patients, a small amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is also required. It potentiates the CBD, maximizing the medical benefit without sending the patient on any kind of magic carpet ride. The cannabinoids act to complement and enhance one another, a phenomenon scientists call the “entourage effect” to describe the synergistic effect of the various compounds in cannabis.

They found the ratio of cannabinoids needed to control and eliminate Alexis’s seizures. When she was on ordinary pharmaceuticals, she suffered seizures at least every other day. With medical cannabis alone, she has gone almost a full year without any seizures, dizziness, lightheadedness, or uncomfortable side effects.

Stars shine on the Lone Star State

The Gridiron Coalition was in attendance, including NFL Hall of Famers Ricky Williams and Jim McMahon. Williams spoke out in favor of NFL players using cannabis instead of pharmaceuticals, saying:

“I think if we open our minds and are willing to put our necks out there and be ourselves, we’ll prove to ourselves we’re OK, and we’ll prove how wonderful this plant is.”

For his part, McMahon, 56, said cannabis relieves his sharp headaches and suicidal thoughts brought on by years of multiple concussions. He has also said that if he had it to do over, he would play baseball instead of football.

Marvin Washington, a 15-year NFL veteran, puts it bluntly:

“The NFL is not a contact sport. It’s a collision sport. The guys that smoke marijuana, they don’t like what the pharmaceuticals do to you. Marijuana is healthier and less addictive…I do not smoke marijuana myself, and the only reason I’m behind this is because the CBD does not have the psychoactive effect. So, if it can help the players, I’m all for it.”

It is so important for famous athletes like this to come out and support cannabis freedom, even though it sometimes has a false, negative perception attached to it. These are the kind of stories that will help NFL athletes left with severe pain throughout their bodies and TBI (traumatic brain injury) to shed the false stigma and normalize their gentle, natural medicine.

U.S. Army veteran and triple amputee Sgt. José Martinez was in the house to relate that after the war, he was prescribed a cocktail of toxic pharmaceuticals from the VA that never truly worked and caused depression and suicidal thoughts. After finding out about the benefits of cannabis for PTS (post-traumatic stress), he began therapy. His results have been extraordinary.

Luckily for José, he lives in California, where access to this medicine is not heavily restricted. Shocking numbers of veterans all across America are killing themselves every day or else becoming “criminals” and being imprisoned for trying to treat their illnesses with a natural plant-based medicine. To those with a sense of compassion, ruining the life of a veteran whose life has already been ruined once by war seems excessive.

Suzanne “Sue” Sisley, M.D., joined us via Skype to speak about her work and research on PTS using medical cannabis. She lost her job as an assistant professor at the University of Arizona because of speaking out on the benefits of medical cannabis. She has now made it her life’s work to get the required clinical trials completed to get this approved by the FDA.

Dr. Mark Rosenfeld was on hand, eager to share with the the audience about the benefits of nutraceuticals. He was particularly excited about the leaps and bounds being made in different countries researching medical cannabis in clinical trials with actual human patients. He firmly believes that we will begin to see a dramatic change in both the way doctors prescribe medicine and the way the current health care system is run. He described nanotechnology as a way to maximize bioavailability and the benefits of the plant and to minimize dosing.

Montel Williams delivered a poignant speech at the conference. The former U.S. Marine and TV talk-show host suffers from muscular sclerosis. He related that he has found medical cannabis to be the only thing that alleviates his pain and muscle spasticity.

All around the conference floor were vibrant booths representing companies from many different states, as well as an expansive array of advocacy groups and legal professionals eager to teach people about their products and services. It was very exciting to be welcomed in Texas, a state traditionally not so welcoming when it comes to medical cannabis.

Cannabis on the national stage

Presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were in town on Friday night and Saturday night, respectively. Both made mention of cannabis legalization in their speeches, a welcome sign of the times. Trump supports medical and letting states determine recreational, meaning the federal government would not suddenly force legalization of discretionary cannabis upon any state that had not voted for it and was unprepared to administer it. Sanders goes further, promoting a senate bill for full nationwide de-scheduling and legalization. Either way, this is definitely a hot topic at the moment! It is encouraging to see major political figures treating this vital subject with something other than sanctimony, disdain, and hypocritical scorn.

A 5k run took place in downtown Fort Worth on Saturday and Sunday, February 27th and 28th. Runners filled the streets as little Alexis arrived at the conference. News cameras waited for her, and rightly so. Her keynote speech made the nightly news, and it was the most moving speech I had heard all day. This little girl is only 10, yet so eloquently described her condition and what she’s been through that the crowd broke out into spontaneous applause several times.

After she spoke, she even stated that if cannabis does not become legal, she will go as far as running for governor of the state of Texas to make sure she can bring home all the medical refugees. She may live in Colorado now, but, as she says, she will forever be a Texas girl! was on full display with the world’s first cannabis-based food truck, giving demonstrations of the Botanical Extractor™, teaching the public the benefits of ingestion, including herb-infused butters, oils, and tinctures. There was quite a “buzz” around our booth, even a dance floor for patrons to come and boogie down if they felt like it. We also distributed delicious infused water and expounded on the benefits of consuming plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Everyone was delighted with Mr. Butter’s hydration station.

Texas was a great success and very promising for what the future might bring. I can see that there will be some barriers to entry and stubborn laws that will make it difficult, but as the rest of the nation continues to wake up and people continue to learn about the endocannabinoid system and all the benefits of the herb, they will have no choice but to accept it.

Texas is a vast state of abundant industry and agriculture. Somewhere in its heart of hearts, surely the Lone Star State would love to be the nation’s “star” cannabis and hemp producer, which they easily could do, given their climate and enormous land mass.

Do you know anyone like Alexis who is or could become a medical refugee? Tell us!