Did you know that there are now just nine states that are absolute marijuana prohibition states? In the other 41 U.S. states, there exists some form of marijuana legalization, medical marijuana legalization or marijuana decriminalization.
Unfortunately for Shona Banda, Kansas is one of those nine states.
Banda has been using cannabis oil to treat a severe case of Crohn’s disease. She lives in Garden City, Kansas—just 55 miles west on U.S. Highway 50 from Dodge City, Kansas, the place referenced in the popular saying, “get the hell out of Dodge.” Another 70 miles west on U.S. 50 is the Colorado border.
Banda has not been clandestine about her cannabis use, either; she’s written a book, “Live Free or Die: Reclaim your Life … Reclaim your Country!” that details how cannabis helped her regain her life. She’s very active on social media. Banda, a divorced mom, was also honest with her 11 year old about her medical treatments.
One day last March, while being lectured with inaccuracies and scare tactics about marijuana in a D.A.R.E. class, her son spoke up about the medical use of cannabis that saved his mom’s life. The cops took him out of the class and subjected him to an interrogation without his mother present to determine that “his mother and other adults in his home were avid drug users and that there was a lot of drug use occurring at the home.”
Banda came home on March 24 to find four cops and two social workers at her home. She recorded the incident on her cell phone as she asked why cops were on her porch and in her back yard. Banda refused to consent to any searches, but after cops got a warrant, they searched her home and found her medical cannabis and paraphernalia.
On Monday, the Finney County Attorney’s office charged Banda with distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property; unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, tetrahydrocannabinol; possession of drug paraphernalia; and endangering a child. She could face 11.5 to 17 years in prison if convicted. Suffering Crohn’s without cannabis oil for that long will probably kill her.
But can the Finney County Attorney seat a jury that would convict Banda? According to an April poll from Fort Hays State University, 68 percent of Kansans support medical use of marijuana. If Banda can afford to take this to a jury trial, I like her odds. There is no evidence that Banda ever distributed marijuana—that’s a trumped up charge based solely on the amount of cannabis seized. The manufacture charge has to do with the oil she uses medically. Her son shows no evidence of abuse or ever being endangered.
She’ll need money for lawyers, of course, and you can help her afford them by contributing to her GoFundMe account. This is Kansas, after all, home to international drug warrior Eric Voth, who truly believes that the 68 percent of Kansans who support medical marijuana have “been heavily manipulated into approving these measures” and don’t realize marijuana has serious toxic and long-term effects.
So why did Shona Banda not “get the hell out of Dodge?” We’ve all heard tales of the Undergreen Railroad—those families that move from prohibition states to Colorado and other medical states to use cannabis legally. But not everybody wants to move from their homes, families and neighborhoods, and they shouldn’t have to. Others may want to move but are tied down to a career, a custody arrangement or other responsibilities.
We wouldn’t ask why a black family doesn’t move out of some racist county. We don’t ask why a gay couple doesn’t leave their homophobic neighborhood. We don’t ask young women why they don’t choose a college campus with less sexual assault. Instead, we expect free people to live wherever they choose and for society to ensure their safety and well-being. So why should we expect sick people to have to uproot and migrate to where they can be safe and well?
No citizen of the United States should have to sacrifice their liberty for their health. Didn’t Robert Randall already settle this issue back in 1976?
(Photo Courtesy of Mother Jones)