Shona Banda: The Latest Victim of Mean-Spirited Bureaucrats

  • by Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel June 22, 2015

    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.



    45 responses to “Shona Banda: The Latest Victim of Mean-Spirited Bureaucrats”

    1. Growyourown says:

      Another fine example of how law enforcement and politicians are a bunch of drama queens. Their ability to create a completely overblown crisis in the face of nothing is disgusting behavior for an adult. This women’s son was in no physical danger. Most likely he had a better mother and parent. 30 years for cannabis oil? Over a substance that improves ones quality of life and hasn’t killed anyone? When will these idiots finally go away?

    2. John says:

      there’s a youtube video of the situation.


    3. QuaxMercy says:

      You mean “whit of knowledge…,” but the young son & student was right, having seen his Mom’s condition improve from her medicine – & the PTB can’t be challenged by a mere child. Same thing holding up de-scheduling – when they are forced to acknowledge medical efficacy, it’s a whole new ball game, with reparations in order.
      Oooo – can’t have that!

    4. Miles says:

      Apparently, the civic institutions in Kansas are led by people with little or no compassion and quite a bit less commonsense than your average stoner!

      Maybe they should lay off the booze and ciggies! Maybe they should be replaced by real people instead of corporate stooges…

    5. Anonymous says:

      How can Swain question federal law in state court?

    6. michael j dee says:

      how can Swain question federal law in state court?

      Shona is one more of the over 20 million arrested for violating the marijuana laws and deprived of her privacy, life, liberty and property without a compelling state interst, without due process of law by state police power.

    7. Judy says:

      Sometimes I wish that a serial killer would start targeting prohibitionists; the kind that go out of their way to make our lives difficult or impossible. Seriously, instead of killing good innocent people, take out a few dirtbags instead.

      Unfortunately I am a peaceful cannabis user and would never do such a thing, but I can fantasize and hope that someone else would do this dirty work. You’d be doing most of the world a big favor.

    8. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Sounds like Kansas is keeping up with their dark heritage with prohibition.

    9. propot says:

      I wonder if they would have made such a big stink about it if it had been about alcohol. I was busted in Kansas for possession with intent to sell within a thousand feet of a school, a Class B felony. Fortunately, I had smoked pot with the judge 20 yrs earlier and was given 3 yrs probation just to satisfy the Sheriff and County attorney. I hope with all my heart she is given a light sentence with no jail time, or the case is dropped, as it should be. Good Luck Shona Banda.

    10. Sickendx says:

      I live in Kansas and something has got to change with the mideval justice system here. Is sas enough that this woman has to battle serious health problems. Now she has a legal battle to go with it! Great job Kansas! Keep up the great work!!

      What do we expect though in a state that elected and the RE-ELECTED $am “Koch-Boy” Brownback.