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Shona Banda: The Latest Medical Marijuana Victim Of Mean-Spirited Bureaucrats


shona banda medical marijuana kansasBy Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel

Shona Banda suffers from Crohn’s disease, and has found, as have many Crohn’s sufferers, that medical marijuana provides her with effective relief and allows her to manage her illness and live a somewhat normal life. Specifically, Banda uses cannabis oil.

The problem is she lives in, Garden City, Kansas, a state that does not yet recognize the medical uses of marijuana. And when her 11-year old son spoke up in his drug education class to challenge some of the anti-marijuana allegations being taught to the children – and shared the fact that his mother uses cannabis to manage her Crohn’s disease – Banda’s son was removed from her custody by the Kansas Department for Children and Families.

Her home was subsequently raided, and Banda is now facing three drug felonies (possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000-feet of a school; endangering a child; and unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance) for the cannabis oil found in her home, and she faces a possible jail term in excess of 30-years. Banda first used cannabis oil to manage her disease when she lived in Colorado for a period of time, before returning to her home in Kansas.

Banda is being represented by attorney Sarah Swain, who publicly has promised an aggressive defense that will challenge every facet of the prosecution’s case, including the questioning of the 11-year-old son without either of his parents present; the search warrant issued for their home based on that questioning; and the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance with no medical usefulness.

This case is just the latest from states around the country that illustrate the incredibly harsh and unjustified consequences of marijuana prohibition, the unsustainable differences in the manner in which we treat our most vulnerable citizens from one state to another, and the absolute moral impairative that we stop treating seriously ill patients as criminals, regardless of where they may call home.

Surely this immediate situation could have been handled by reasonable people in a manner based on compassion and concern for the welfare of this serious ill mother, striving to find a way to lead a full life and raise her young son. The school could have exercised some discretion and common sense and accepted the comments made by her young son as reflecting the reality of his and his mother’s life, and this would not have become a matter of public concern. And the Garden City police should not have questioned the young child without his parent’s consent, and did not have to seek a questionable search warrant, based on the child’s statements, to invade Banda’s home and violate her privacy. And finally, the local prosecutor, Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier, with even a wit of compassion and understanding, could have exercised her discretion and refused to file criminal charges, bringing this embarrassing episode to a close, and allowing this seriously ill woman a chance to live a normal life.

But at each level, the civic institutions in Kansas failed their responsibility to serve the best interests of the citizens of Kansas, ignoring the obviously compelling factual situation, and blindly pursuing the war on drugs, despite the horrendous repercussions of that choice.

Rather they have reminded us of the enduring harm caused by marijuana prohibition, and the damage it has done not just to the victims of this misguided war, but also to those in civic positions of trust who have lost their moral compass in their blind support for prohibition.

Shame on everyone who had anything to do with allowing this case to get to this point, and who failed to stand up and publicly question the appropriateness of this entire witch-hunt. These are people who are either incredibly ignorant of the important and sometimes life-altering benefits medical marijuana provides to tens of thousands of seriously ill patients across this country (37 states now permit at least limited medical use of marijuana), or they are truly mean-spirited people who simply do not care.

Regardless, it reminds me of how much work we still have ahead of us, and why I would never wish to live in rural Kansas.

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Johnny Green


  1. How many people in this country have lost custody of their children over marijuana? I don’t think anyone has a good idea, it would be an excellent subject for someone to study.
    The Communists and Nazis loved to take children away from their parents for political crimes. Nice role models you got there, Kansas!

  2. They are just cowboys they know nothing. I bet most people in Kansas didn’t even go to school.

  3. Why waste your time just move away from that backwards state. Colorado is close to you. We have no sympathy since you can just pick up and leave them ignorant people of Kansas.

  4. Whyiowa4medical on

    This is a horrible case, there are really no words for just how wrong it is, but this woman is not alone. There are cases just like hers all over the Midwest, especially in Iowa being served by the worst “Public pretender’s” in the country. Iowa, according to a glance at the map presented under the “Law” on this blog appears to be oils friendly. This is far from the truth as Iowa requires the prescription of a very particular specialty in the neurology spectrum to prescribe “Charlotte’s Web.” If one is keen on these “Specialists,” one will soon find they will first try every pharmaceutical on their list and if a child’s seizures reduce from 100 events per day to 50 events per day; this is considered a drastic improvement and no oils will be prescribed. Even though the map shows a metabolite blood level that is considered “impaired driving” this could lead one to believe Iowa is tightly decriminalized. Still false, the parents of suffering children are heading to federal prison for smuggling a controlled substance into the state where their child has a prescription. There is no recognized medical use, a supply is ever so slowly being developed for the potential 200 families to be served, provided their child shows no decrease in symptoms. There are no laws providing for any other medical use and those who take the risk do not come back from Colorado without something that makes the trip worthwhile (a little something to pay for gas, a hotel, and the over $1,000 per month for the cost of the medicine). My disgust at the laws in the Midwest have made America simply America as we are so un-united as to be three separate countries. There is America, the land of no way Jose; then there is America, the land of medical use only; then you have America, the land of the free (as long as you follow local ordinance and stay inside your home lest anyone see you under the influence); finally you have America, the land of we will trick you into believing you are safe until they put you in federal prison for 50 years which are few, but Iowa is one.

  5. We need to hold these hate mongers accountable for their persecuting the innocent. There is the law and then there is Justice.

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  7. Johnny oneye on

    This is not the beginning.
    The battle was lost but the DRUG WAR rages on.
    Most cannabis users openly defy cannabis #prohibition
    if a law is un just No juror should convict
    peaceful protests!

  8. Johnny oneye on

    Wow , jury nullification could be a last hope.
    more than half of the U.S. has some cannabis access
    1 juror who has some common sense is all we need.!
    There no place like home

  9. Robert Dewayne King on

    But even in those “dry” counties you CANNOT be arrested for simple possession of beer or wine ! In fact those beverages can be bought in most supermarkets , dry county or not !

  10. Somebody needs to get a “Boycott Mean Spirited Kansas” campaign going. Maybe crowd fund it. I’d contribute. In a heartbeat!

  11. Doc Deadhead on

    First off, no one should go to jail for a medicine you can grow in your back yard. Period.

    “I would never wish to live in rural Kansas.” is what this country will have to adjust to. I do not want to be mean here but if she needed the oil to have some form of a life she should have stayed where it was legal until it became legal in the state where she wants to live. My heart goes out to her but we need to CHANGE the laws, not disregard known laws. Hundreds of families are moving to states that allow Medical so they don’t have to ‘break’ current laws in their home state.

    Lots of people right now have moved to different parts of the country for health reasons, the desert southwest for low humidity needs for instance. In the next 20 years as this folds out, parts of the country will be pot friendly and people will move to those areas for the freedoms that state offers.

    Parts of this country will NEVER be pot friendly and the haters will all move to those areas to enjoy their freedoms as well.

    It was the same way at the end of alcohol prohibition, some areas wanted to keep hating while others wanted to embrace the new commerce. People moved to the areas where they were comfortable with the new laws and entrepreneurs followed the new laws as well.

    There are still ‘dry’ counties all over the southern Bible belt, the same will be true for pot. There will be some areas that even though it will be legal across the country will still vote to ban it’s use in that county/city/village/township.

    This is just the beginning of a very long battle.

  12. Wendy Shores on

    Wow.. this is wrong on SO many levels. She needs the marijuana in a medical way and just because Kansas is behind the times shouldnt mean that she should suffer for it. Hoping things work out for her and she gets her son back.

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