A mother in western Kansas has sued the state after officials there took her son and arrested her on marijuana charges. The 11-year-old boy was removed after he told authorities his mother possesses and uses the drug.
Shona Banda, 38, of Garden City, Kansas, filed her suit in federal court March 24, alleging state officials impinged on her civil rights by punishing her for treating a severe case of Crohn’s disease with cannabis, according to the Wichita Eagle newspaper.
Banda also says police and state agencies infringed on her rights as a parent and questioned the boy improperly, without her permission. Her son was taken from their home last March after he allegedly spoke up during a drug education class and said several adults, including Banda, used drugs at the house.
Police found marijuana, concentrates and paraphernalia
Police searched the home with a warrant and said they found hash oil, more than a pound of bud, and marijuana paraphernalia. The Garden City school district and state officials, including the office of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, told the Eagle they couldn’t comment on the case because of the pending lawsuit.
Banda’s son was removed by the Kansas Department for Children and Families, and she named the agency as one of several defendants in the suit. Though the department recommends against taking children strictly for the presence of marijuana, it removes them when there are safety issues, said spokeswoman Theresa Freed.
“The court has final say regarding placement of children,” Freed said. “Marijuana is an illegal substance in the state of Kansas. It can have both direct and indirect detrimental consequences on families.”
Kansas’ punitive anti-marijuana laws
Anti-cannabis laws are especially harsh in Kansas, where the drug is banned for any use and all marijuana offenses are crimes. Possession of one pound is treated as possession with intent to distribute, a felony with a maximum penalty of nearly four years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
Banda filed the suit herself one year to the day after the raid and is acting as her own attorney. She has not specified damages.
In the lawsuit, Banda says she never allowed her son near her cannabis and taught him it could only be used as medication. She previously wrote a book about her use of hash oil as treatment for Crohn’s disease.
Banda was arrested following the search of her home and faces cannabis-related criminal charges in Finney County. Police and prosecutors did not disclose the status of that case or the exact nature of the charges.
Crohn’s disease is a serious, chronic inflammatory bowel disorder that causes significant pain and discomfort. Marijuana has been shown to be an effective treatment, but Kansas does not allow the drug for any medicinal use.
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