STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. - A DeKalb County father is one of five plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed this week to challenge the constitutionality of the country's drug classifications.
"If we can change the law to help even one kid, one patient, it's totally worth it," said Sebastien Cotte.
Cotte's son, Jagger, 6, has used medical cannabis since 2014. That was the year Georgia legislators passed a law establishing a medical cannabis oil registry for patients with a handful of specific illnesses. Jagger has mitochondrial disease, which causes seizures and is covered under the state law.
"Cannabis is a big part of why he's still alive today," Cotte explained.
The state law, however, leaves one gaping hole for families. It is still illegal to grow, buy or sell marijuana in Georgia. So, families like the Cottes have to obtain cannabis oil in other states and illegally transport it back home.
"It's very stressful," said Cotte. "It adds a lot of anxiety in our daily life just to think about when this bottle is empty, am I going to be able to get another one? How am I going to do it? Am I going to get arrested when I try to get my next bottle?"
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, challenges whether the Controlled Substances Act is constitutional because of it classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), a Schedule I substance "are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." The lawsuit contends that marijuana does, in fact, have medical value.
"This is not about Jagger. This is not about any of the five plaintiffs from the lawsuit," said Cotte. "It's about every medical cannabis patient in the entire country."
The DEA is named in the lawsuit, but declined to comment on the pending litigation.