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January 20, 2014

Ga. family fights for state medical marijuana law

ATLANTA —

Haleigh Cox's seizure disorder makes all her days hard. She has up to 100 seizures a day. When her breathing stopped earlier this month, her mom, Janea Cox, thought she had lost her only child.

Since then, the Forsyth 4-year-old has been struggling at Children's Hospital at Egleston in Atlanta, tied into tubes that keep her alive.

Her family has tried dozens of medications and treatments, and now it is desperately seeking another one.

That medicine is a capsule containing extracts from marijuana, a drug that's illegal in all forms in Georgia.

"I'm in contact with several families in Colorado at the moment with this same diagnosis as Haleigh," Cox said. Some of them have gone down from as many as 300 seizures daily to as few as one a week or month, she said. Mother and daughter were packing their bags for Colorado recently when the latest crisis hit.

"She's on four seizure medications now," Cox said. "A seizure medication literally shuts down your brain."

Haleigh's parents miss typical playing with their child, listening to her laugh and watching her mind develop. Instead, their daughter sleeps about 18 hours a day, one of many side effects of the anti-seizure drugs she takes. She needs help to sit up or hold up her head.

While federal law bans marijuana, 20 states plus the District of Columbia now allow the use of medical marijuana.

After meeting the Coxes, state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, said he's going to take the lead on adding Georgia to that list.

"I'm an unlikely champion of this," said Peake, who said he's never smoked pot and said several times that he opposes anything except a tightly controlled, legitimate medical marijuana trade.

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