Kansas Marijuana Activist Sues State for Removing Son from Home

By May Wilkerson 03/29/16

The federal lawsuit claims that Shona Banda is being depriving of her civil rights to treat her Crohn's disease and to parent her child.

Kansas Marijuana Activist Sues State for Removing Son from Home
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A Kansas woman is suing the state and various agencies involved in removing her 11-year-old from her home after he revealed in school that she possessed and used marijuana. In a federal lawsuit filed last week, Shona Banda, 38, claims that she uses pot to treat Crohn’s disease, and the state of Kansas and its agencies infringed upon her civil rights to treat the debilitating condition. Medical marijuana is illegal in Kansas.

The lawsuit also alleges that state officials infringed upon Banda’s parenting rights by taking away her son and that school employees and local police improperly questioned him without her permission. The child was removed from her home in March of last year after he commented during a school drug education program that his mother and other adults in his home were drug users, according to authorities.

After searching Banda’s home, police reportedly uncovered more than a pound of pot, as well as cannabis oil and drug-related paraphernalia. The Kansas Department for Children and Families, which is named as a defendant in the trial, said that children should be removed from their homes whenever “serious safety issues exist,” but not for marijuana use alone, according to agency spokeswoman Theresa Freed.

"The court has final say regarding placement of children," said Freed. "Marijuana is an illegal substance in the state of Kansas. It can have both direct and indirect detrimental consequences on families."

According to Banda’s lawsuit, she educated her son about marijuana, told him "it is a medication” and never allowed him to use the drug. She is representing herself in the trial, and seeking unspecified damages.

Last year, it was reported that Banda could face up to 30 years in prison after the state of Kansas charged her with five felony counts of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, manufacturing THC, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia, and one count of child endangerment. Her son was removed from her home and placed in the custody of her ex-husband.

Banda has written a book in which she documents her use of concentrated cannabis oil to treat Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease. “I spent years raising my children from a couch, not being able to move much,” she said last year. “I wasn’t able to be a proper mother when I was sick and now I’m a fantastic mother.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.