Marijuana Activist, Shona Banda, Who Lost Custody Of Son Says She’s Suing So It Doesn't Happen To Others

Shona Banda, shown here after she was booked into jail and then released after posting bond in June, has sued state and Garden City officials, claiming she has a constitutional right to use cannabis to treat her Crohn’s disease. Credit James Dobson / Garden City Telegram

 

By Dan Margolies

The Garden City, Kansas, mother who lost custody of her 11-year-old son over her use of cannabis oil says she wants to hold state officials accountable “so this doesn’t happen to people any longer.”

Shona Banda, who sued state agencies and officials late last week, is representing herself in the action, which asks the court to restore custody of her son, declare that she has a “fundamental right” to use cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s disease and award unspecified damages.

“We need to restore actual liberties in this country,” Banda said in a telephone interview with Heartland Health Monitor. “The powers that be have gained way too much control when they think that they can do these kinds of things even with your children.”

Banda posted a draft of her lawsuit online as long ago as September but later said its filing had been delayed by the inability of her attorneys, one in Lawrence, Kansas, and the other in California, to agree on a mutual schedule.

In the lawsuit filed last week, however, she is acting on her own behalf. Asked what had become of her attorneys, Banda said the California attorney had a medical emergency “and we were coming on the statute of limitations to file the case. So I had to do what I had to do in order to make this happen.”

The suit was filed a year to the day after Garden City police raided her home and seized marijuana, cannabis oil and drug-related equipment after her 11-year-old son spoke up about her use of cannabis at a school anti-drug presentation.

The Kansas Department for Children and Families subsequently took custody of her son, saying the home environment was not safe for him, and the Finney County district attorney filed drug-related criminal charges against her. The charges carry a maximum punishment of 30 years in prison.

Banda said she would represent herself in court until she could find “adequate representation.”

Her 20-page lawsuit, filed in federal court, names as defendants the state of Kansas; the Kansas Department for Children and Families; DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore; Gov. Sam Brownback; the Garden City Police Department and its police chief, James R. Hawkins; the Garden City School District; and Tyler Stubenhoffer, an employee of the school district.

The suit alleges that the defendants violated Banda’s constitutional rights under the 9th and 14th amendments and cites an “emerging awareness” of the medical benefits of marijuana and its increasing societal acceptance. However, legal experts say there’s little case law supporting a constitutional right to medical marijuana.

Under Kansas law, possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A second conviction is punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and a $100,000 fine.

Theresa Freed, a spokeswoman for the Department for Children and Families, could not be reached for comment on Monday. But asked in September about Banda’s then-threatened lawsuit, she said that the department’s mission is to “protect children, promote healthy families and encourage personal responsibility.”

“Our social workers are trained to assess the safety of a home and make an appropriate recommendation to the court,” Freed said. “Marijuana is an illegal substance in the state of Kansas. It can have both direct and indirect detrimental consequences on families.”

Banda said her son is in the custody of his father and she has visitation rights. She said, however, that she and the father are getting divorced “and I’m fighting for sole custody of my son.”

Banda has another son, 19, who lives with her and whom she says “is working and trying to do what he can to be an adult.”

She acknowledged that the legal odyssey she’s endured over the last year has been “very difficult” but said her younger son was “doing OK.”

“But it’s been very difficult on our family as a whole, I will say that,” she said.

Banda has been a highly visible advocate of medical marijuana and self-published a book about her use of cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s, an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause severe abdominal pain and other symptoms.

Her lawsuit says she has undergone 17 surgeries over eight years. It says that the cannabis oil she uses to treat her condition had “significantly relieved” debilitating symptoms that had prevented her from working and confined her to her home.

Dan Margolies, editor of the Heartland Health Monitor team, is based at KCUR. You can reach him on Twitter @DanMargolies.

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ADDITIONALLY,

A personal letter from Shona Banda

We, the people of America, demand reform of ; Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children


Among Bevin’s campaign pledges was that he would reform the cabinet’s social services agency.
By:  Robin Rider-Osborne·Sunday, January 31, 2016
KENTUCKY REPRESENTATIVE EMAIL ADDRESSES AND ANNOUNCEMENT LETTER / ALL STATE PARTICIPATION. Copy and paste letter to email addresses listed below; Bulk email dump at bottom of page for one letter bulk sending.
We, the people of America, demand reform of ; Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children & Family Law courtrooms. I request of your office the following;
1. Implement removal of Abusers, not children from Family units.
2. Remove Immunity for Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children workers.
3. Restructure Family Law court into budget cutting mediation forums of two party negotiations.
4. Redirect Family Law Criminal allegations into Criminal court.
5. Restrict Judges and various interpretations of Family Law codes to abuse either party.
6. End Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children abuse and Family Law abuse against the people of Kentucky. We demand an end to wasteful spending on agencies devastating families financially.
7 Allow a Jury trial in Termination of Parental Rights Cases
8. Amend or repeal that law that allows for children being removed due to disability and termination of rights without working towards reunification.
9. Release records upon request without redaction and revamp the Ombudsman to process the complaints in a timely and proper manner.
10. Revamp Foster Care Review boards as originally spelled out in CAPTA.
I cite the cases of ;
Pike Co. Circuit Judge Steve Combs DUI,
Garrard Co. Judge Ronnie Lane Drug trafficking,
Russell Co. Judge R. Maricle illegally distributing prescription drugs,
Judge Charles Huffman Extortion,
Russell Co. Judge Executive Kent Clark, Alcohol related charges,
Judge Executive Joe Grieshop charged with third-degree burglary; theft of items valued at over $10,000; 10 counts of retaliating against participants in a legal process; and one count of official misconduct,
Knox Co. Judge executive Raymond Smith(deceased)Attempted murder of Robin Smith, Murder of Mychael Smith and Micheal Smith,
Warren Co. Judge Margaret Huddleston DUI,
Marshall Co. Judge Executive Mike Miller, False entry/unauthorized act, .
This partial list of neglect of office, unethical professional conduct and evidence of failure within the Judicial branch of Kentucky. We strongly oppose Judges overseeing Families in crisis in the Family law division.
I cite the case of the failure of Kentucky Cabinet of Families and Children in protecting a nine year old, Amy from her adoptive siblings, known to have history in sexual abuse and undisclosed by the KCFC prior to the adoption. Problems were reported to indicate the adoptive parent, Kimberly Dye desire to ‘return’ the adopted girl shortly before her death This was an enormous failure of several to ignore all the warning signs of this broken adoptive home. While we acknowledge review and actions were taken as the result of the death of this girl, we feel more can be done to insure the safety of children seized and accountability by this agency.
We know there is rampant corruption in the government offices of Child services and Family law. This is a national epidemic of criminal activity within the programs, courtrooms and agencies that are bankrupting the American Families. We demand reform and strict laws on government seats of power placed with the power of office to seize children, financially destroy individuals, and racketeering to conceal internal corruption within our state and federal offices.
End legal abuse by Judges and Lawyers by instituting forums for successful dissolution/custody between spouses with guidelines without ruling Judges or lawyers. Enforce penalty of perjury, redirect criminal actions in Family Law to the Criminal courts. Remove immunity for Judges operating outside the rule of law. Reform Child services to an efficient team of child crime investigators and not our out dated model of Child protective services.
We, the people, unite and demand reform of CPS agencies and Family Law practices. We, the people, take back our rights to protect our children and families.
Robin Rider-Osborne can be contacted at:
Citizens Investigating the “Runaway Cabinet of Kentucky” Task Force
and by email to:  [email protected]
Thank You for your attention in this matter!
EMAIL LINKS (EMAIL BULK DUMP AT BOTTOM OF PAGE / WINDOWS LINK EMAILS BELOW SITE LINKS. COPY /CUT PASTE LETTER BODY INTO EACH EMAIL LINK. NOT ALL REPRESENTATIVES PROVIDE EMAIL ADDRESSES.
BULK EMAIL DUMP / ONE SENDER; ONE EMAIL
[email protected];[email protected];[email protected];[email protected];[email protected]; [email protected];[email protected];[email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]
This issue was submitted by Robin Rider-Osborne, Lexington, KY.

Consuming Marijuana During Pregnancy Does Not Make A Mother Unfit

Since 1985 cigarette packages sold in the United States have carried four rotating warnings from the surgeon general, including this one: “Smoking by Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, and Low Birth Weight.” Since 1989 the labels of alcoholic beverages have included this government-mandated warning: “According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects.” This week the American Medical Association (AMA) proposed a similar label for cannabis products:  “Marijuana use during pregnancy and breastfeeding poses potential harms.”

The proposed warning represents a concession to political reality by the AMA, which opposes marijuana legalization but seems to recognize that pot prohibition is inexorably crumbling. The AMA’s wording is notably milder than the warnings for tobacco and alcohol—appropriately so, since the evidence that cannabis consumption during pregnancy can harm the fetus is less clear than the evidence that smoking and heavy drinking can. In any case, providing information about marijuana’s hazards is surely preferable to the punitive moralism of the war on drugs.

Hollie Sanford holding Nova (Image: WJW)

Hollie Sanford holding Nova (Image: WJW)

The latter approach still prevails in most of the country, as illustrated by what happened to Hollie Sanford and her baby girl, Nova. After Sanford gave birth at Cleveland’s Fairview Hospital on September 26, Nova was snatched away from her because the newborn’s first stool tested positive for a marijuana metabolite. Against the recommendation of county social workers (who are usually the villains in stories like this), Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court Magistrate Eleanore Hilow decided the drug test result by itself justified separating Nova from her parents. They were not reunited until last week, after a judge overruled Hilow.

Sanford used cannabis tea to treat morning sickness and severe sciatic nerve pain while she was pregnant with Nova, as she had when she was pregnant with Nova’s brother, Logan, who is now almost 2. Her research convinced her marijuana was a safer choice than the painkillers she had been prescribed, and she may be right about that. The Food and Drug Administration puts opioids such as hydrocodone and oxycodone in Category C, meaning “animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans,” although “potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.” The evidence concerning marijuana’s effects on fetuses is likewise mixed and incomplete.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose raison d’etre is highlighting the hazards of illegal intoxicants, says “research in rats suggests that exposure to even low concentrations of THC late in pregnancy could have profound and long-lasting consequences for both brain and behavior of offspring.” It adds that “human studies have shown that some babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies respond differently to visual stimuli, tremble more, and have a high-pitched cry, which could indicate problems with neurological development.” NIDA also notes that “children prenatally exposed to marijuana are more likely to show gaps in problem-solving skills, memory, and the ability to remain attentive.” But it admits that “more research is needed…to disentangle marijuana’s specific effects from other environmental factors, including maternal nutrition, exposure to nurturing/neglect, and use of other substances by mothers.”

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