In March, social and alternative media reported how the 11-year-old son of a Garden City, Kansas woman, Shona Banda, was removed from her custody by Child Protective Services following a raid on her home. Police found cannabis and cannabis oil.
For weeks, authorities in Kansas refused to grant Banda custody of her son, while also dragging their heels in terms of filing charges against the woman. That all changed on June 5 when the state of Kansas filed five felony counts against Banda, including possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, manufacturing cannabis oil, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of child endangerment.
According to Banda’s attorney, she could face a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted to the full extent of the law on all five charges.
The case of Banda is striking not only because of the brash and insensitive actions of local law enforcement against this medical marijuana patient who suffers from Crohn’s disease, but more so because it clearly illustrates the great disparity of cannabis laws and penalties in the United States.
Only 70 miles to the west of Garden City, Kansas — roughly a one-hour drive — on the eastern edge of Colorado, a patient in Banda’s situation would have a very different experience. In Colorado, patients visit a local medical dispensary, obtain professional recommendations for the best approach to their disease, purchase their medicine, and consume it in the privacy of their homes. With their children in their custody. Fully legally.
Because of something as simple as a state border.
Not so in the progressive state of Kansas, where Banda has lived for nearly two months without her son — but with the memory of a police raid and the loss of her medicine. The five felony counts filed against her by Kansas are an indication that the state is serious and may be planning to make an example of her case.
“These mothers are being forced to choose between their health and their ability to be a parent,”
said Sarah Swain, the attorney who is representing Banda.
Both Kansas and Nebraska have taken legal action against the state of Colorado for its marijuana legalization. Culturally, Kansas and Colorado couldn’t be more different. Through actions like the raid and bust of Banda, Kansas has proven that, instead of following the economically healthy compassion laws of its western neighbor, this prohibitionist state would prefer to continue the drug war and persecute mothers with Crohn’s disease.
How many more success stories like that of Colorado are necessary before conservative states like Kansas understand the economic advantages and moral imperative that is medical cannabis? How much evidence must be gathered before Luddite states like Kansas and Nebraska recognize the clear path to legalization that is the early 21st century? How many more single mothers with severe diseases must suffer before legislators do something about the problem?