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Friday, August 1, 2014 - 12:37pm

Dad Says New Medical Marijuana Bill Isn’t Enough

Sebastien Cotte and his wife take turns caring for their 3-year-old son Jagger around the clock. Jagger has a condition called Leigh’s Disease, which is a neurological disorder than impacts almost every facet of his life.

“It’s a terminal disease, so he’s currently on hospice,” explained Cotte, who lives in Stone Mountain. “He has a heart condition. He has a lot of GI tract condition(s). He cannot eat on his own. He’s 100 percent fed with a tube.”

Jagger also has seizures. Last fall, Cotte started researching the potential benefits of medical marijuana for patients with seizures. He quickly became involved in the effort to legalize the plant in Georgia.

“We tried to pass [a medical marijuana bill] and obviously, that was a big disappointment when we didn’t,” Cotte said.

The effort has now reached the national level. Earlier this week, Congressman Scott Perry, R – Pennsylvania, filed a bill that would remove therapeutic hemp and cannabidiol, also known as CBD, from the definition of marijuana under federal law.

“There is anecdotal evidence that CBD oil has been shown to reduce the amount and duration of seizures in children suffering from epilepsy and other seizure disorders,” wrote Rep. Perry’s office in a news release. “This legislation would enable individuals access to this potentially life-saving supplement without having to split up families geographically in order to receive treatment.”

Cotte, however, believes the legislation does not go far enough to help families like his.

“The problem, if you really look at the issue and really study the issue, CBD alone has very limited result,” explained Cotte.

He went on to say that many patients who use CBD oil, also supplement it with THC, the psychoactive element of marijuana or THCA, which is the non-psychoactive form. Neither of those is included in Perry’s bill.

Cotte said that leaves many patients at square one.

“If I’m trying to find a good analogy for it, it’s almost like having this race car and only having the first and second gear,” said Cotte. “So, for some people that only got to be going a certain speed or only want a limited thing from their sports car, that’s going to work. But as soon you want to get the full potential of your car, you want to do exactly what the car is supposed to do—is go fast and get to your destination faster—you won’t be able to do that because you don’t have those gears.”

While this bill may represent a step in the right direction, Cotte added, he fears it might stall any future progress on the issue.

“One of my big [worries] is then, if it [passes], and we ask for more, that bill will be used as a cop out by politician(s) in D.C.,” shared Cotte. “It will be used as, ‘Well, why do you need a bill for medical marijuana? Because you already have one.’”

Georgia Congressmen Paul Broun and David Scott both signed on to the bill, but neither of them were available for comment.

The legislation now goes to committee for consideration.