Cannabis Convention Opens in Cowtown

Weekend event expected to draw 6,000

About 6,000 people are expected to attend the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo at the Fort Worth Convention Center this weekend.

Organizers say the event will focus on legal marijuana sales, with vendors hawking everything from books to bongs.

Television talk show host Montel Williams is scheduled to speak at the event on Sunday. Williams, who has multiple sclerosis, advocates legalizing marijuana for medical use.

But the keynote speaker will be 10-year-old Alexis Bortell of Rowlett, known as the “Texas medical marijuana refugee.”

Her father Dean Bortell, a disabled vet and software engineer, said she suffered from terrible seizures caused by her epilepsy.

A year ago, she suffered her worst seizure and had to be rushed to the hospital, he said.

"The doctor came in and he said, 'I know what you are trying to do. If I were you, I can't tell you what to do with medical cannabis, but it might be something that you'd consider,'” Bortell said.

They moved to Colorado, where Alexis now legally uses medical marijuana in the form of an oil twice a day.

"It's been a miracle,” her father said.

She hasn't had any seizures for nearly a year, he said.

Texas passed a medical marijuana law last year, allowing epilepsy patients to take small doses of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

But Alexis’ father said even when the new law takes effect late next year, it wouldn’t help her because she needs a heavier dose.

"We're fighting to come back,” he said. “This is the beginning of the ground game to get some kind of sanity in our compassion laws in Texas."

When Alexis flies in Sunday to speak at the marijuana convention, she can only stay a few hours before she has to rush back to Colorado to take her next dose, Bortell said.

Organizers of the event say they know they face much opposition in Texas but expect to see the state loosen laws, at least on medical marijuana, in the next few years.

Contact Us