Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Rustning

If you’ve taken a look at Leaf411’s About Us page recently, you’ve likely noticed several new faces. Today we’re introducing Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran who joined the Leaf411 Board of Directors as our new Affordability Program Chair.

Bourlon-Hilterbran is a tireless advocate for cannabis patients, including veterans and families with children whose lives have been transformed through plant-based medicine. The Green Market Report lists Bourlon-Hilterbran as one of the Most Important Women in Weed in 2020, and many publications including GRAM, Westword, and Weedmaps have profiled her work.

A Passionate Advocate for Patients' Access to Cannabis

Our son had been on varying, numerous pharmaceutical pills and combinations to combat his daily seizures, but none of them stopped them, and all had side effects. Some side effects were hideous, some sent him into anaphylactic shock, some started shutting down his organs. The doctors told us to take our son home, that there was nothing more they could do,” Bourlon-Hilterbran said.

“Because I was left with no other choice, I chose to try cannabis for our son. It saved his life. Cannabis stopped his seizures when no pharmaceuticals did. I am ashamed to say it took those extremes (before trying cannabis as an alternative), but I want other families to learn from my mistakes. Cannabis should be a legal option and not the last illegal resort.”

At the time, AMR and Leaf411 didn’t exist, so Bourlon-Hilterbran had to spend hours researching and talking to other families she tracked down who had similar experiences.

“It was heartbreaking and extremely overwhelming at times, trying to gather information, talk to other parents, find the missing answers. I vowed I would do whatever it took to make the process easier for other families who had to relocate from another state or country to legally access cannabis as a medicine,” she said.

Every day, Bourlon-Hilterbran hears from parents who are navigating similar situations that she faced, who are either confused or conflicted about how to best help their children. She advises:

“Never forget that you are the lead on your child’s medical team. No one cares more for your child or knows your child better than you. Be respectful, be educated on your child and their condition, but make sure your doctors and family know that you will be an active member of the conversation when it comes to the health of your child. Never. Give. Up.”

American Medical Refugees: Serving as a Resource for Patients and Their Families

Bourlon-Hilterbran’s experience led her and her husband to launch American Medical Refugees. AMR has directly helped thousands of patients through in-person events, information sharing and online community-building, all incredibly valuable skills that Bourlon-Hilterbran will bring to her role at Leaf411 as well.

Bourlon-Hilterbran also shares her experience with other AMR families so they can advocate for legislative changes to improve access to safe, legal cannabis in their home states.

“We’re all in this together, and we need to stand united. Political party affiliation doesn’t matter when someone is chronically or terminally ill. We see Republicans and Democrats fighting side by side to legalize cannabis, even in my own family,” she said.

Although Bourlon-Hilterbran and her family now make Colorado home, their Oklahoma roots run deep. In 2018, Oklahoma voters approved medical marijuana, creating a new option for thousands of patients who could not afford to move out of the state to access legal cannabis. Bourlon-Hilterbran played an active role in that legislative process, working with Oklahoma Senator Connie Johnson and other critical entities to ensure the newly enacted laws put patients first.

While a lot of progress has occurred, stigma, stereotypes and barriers still exist. This came to light in 2019 when CBS rejected a medical cannabis ad created by Acreage Holdings for the Super Bowl. Bourlon-Hilterbran’s son was one of the patients featured in the ad.

For Bourlon-Hilterbran, the need to address stigma and stereotypes while also providing education was a major impetus for her planned launch of the Oklahoma Cannabis Expo in March 2020. Unfortunately, the emerging COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to all large public events, including the expo. Bourlon-Hiterbran is working closely with city and state officials to find a new date for the Oklahoma Cannabis Expo in Fall 2021.

Forging a New Role at Leaf411 as the Affordability Program Chair

When it comes to her role on the Leaf411 Board of Directors, Bourlon-Hilterbran is laser-focused. “My goal is to bring my educational and medical experience, along with my patient and industry networks together to offer patients support, information and access. Joining this team is a highlight of my life. The potential to directly impact more patients via free medicine and medical appointments makes me incredibly happy and proud,” Bourlon-Hilterbran said.

Leaf411's Commitment to You as We Grow

As Leaf411 continues to grow and innovate new programs, our core mission remains focused on the public, providing free, clinically-sound education and directional support about the safe use of legal cannabis (both CBD hemp and marijuana sold legally in dispensaries). We’re also committed to working with stakeholders to address outdated stereotypes and stigma, while also improving the public perception of the cannabis industry.

Our newest additions to both our Advisory Board and Board of Directors, including Bourlon-Hilterbran, will help ensure that our education and services that are fully compliant and transparent as we grow, and that we remain true to our mission to you—the public.

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The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.