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

80-year-old marijuana dealer pleads guilty in federal court

By Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  October 16, 2015

Marshall Dion is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 11 after entering a guilty plea.

He owned houses in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Arizona, had $11 million stashed in a North Reading storage facility, and once crawled away from a plane crash in Wisconsin as thousands of dollars in cash (suspected drug profits) floated through the air around him.

But his dramatic exploits came to an end Thursday, when 80-year-old Marshall Herbert Dion, wearing tan prison clothing, shuffled to the witness stand to plead guilty to running a massive marijuana-dealing and money-laundering operation.

Under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Dion could serve 5 to 7 years in federal prison, ending a lucrative criminal career that spanned decades until a chance traffic stop in Kansas.

“Over the course of the conspiracy . . . he had sold approximately 3,000 to 10,000 kilograms of marijuana,” Assistant US Attorney Leah Foley said during a brief court hearing.

Dion’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, said later that “Mr. Dion has embraced his responsibility and is looking forward to the next chapter in his life.”

Dion’s unraveling began during a traffic stop in Junction City, Kan., in June 2013, when a police officer pulled him over for driving 80 in a 75 m.p.h. zone. During the stop, the officer searched Dion’s beat-up pickup truck and found nearly $850,000 in cash.

The discovery sparked a federal investigation that ultimately led to the discovery of $2 million in a bank account, another $880,000 in an Arizona building, and the storage facility in North Reading, where authorities found 395 pounds of marijuana and $11 million in cash.

Foley told US District Judge Denise Casper that authorities found travel logs that indicate Dion had sold more than 3,000 kilograms of marijuana — and possibly as many as 10,000 kilograms — dating back to 1992.

Dion’s decision to plead guilty Thursday caps a lengthy criminal career. He was convicted in Massachusetts in the late 1980s of drug trafficking after authorities in Boston found about 180 pounds of marijuana in a 1986 Chrysler sedan. Police later found 101 pounds of marijuana stashed in a commercial storage building in Lynnfield.

A Boston police spokesman told the Globe at the time that “apparently he has houses all over New England. He’s a major operator, there’s no question.”

After the plane crash in Wisconsin in 1985, Dion was found crawling through a muddy field, though he denied that the $112,000 in cash found inside the plane and floating through the air was his.

For Dion’s latest exploits, Casper could sentence him to prison for a term ranging from 60 to 87 months for conspiracy to deal marijuana, possession with intent to deal marijuana, and money laundering, under the deal he reached with prosecutors. He had faced a minimum mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison if he had been convicted in a trial. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 11.

Under the plea agreement, however, Dion’s conviction and guilty plea would be vacated if he is successful in an appeal he is pursuing before a higher court. That appeal is based on what he calls an unconstitutional search of his truck after the traffic stop in Kansas.

Dion told Casper that he agreed with everything Foley said about him in court Thursday except two things: That the Kansas officer had a reason to stop him for speeding, and that he consented to the search of the truck.

“There’s no way the officer could have known if I was speeding, even if I was, which I wasn’t,” Dion said.

Then he added, “There’s no way I would have agreed to a search of my property.”

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at [email protected]
com
. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.

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State seizes 11-year-old, arrests his mother after he defends medical marijuana during a school presentation

By Radley Balko April 17

From the website run by investigative journalist Ben Swann:

On March 24, cannabis oil activist Shona Banda‘s life was flipped upside-down after her son was taken from her by the State of Kansas. The ordeal started when police and counselors at her 11-year-old son’s school conducted a drug education class. Her son, who had previously lived in Colorado for a period of time, disagreed with some of the anti-pot points that were being made by school officials. “My son says different things like my ‘Mom calls it cannabis and not marijuana.’ He let them know how educated he was on the facts,” said Banda in an exclusive interview with BenSwann.com. Banda successfully treated her own Crohn’s disease with cannabis oil.

After her son spoke out about medical marijuana, police detained him and launched a raid on Shona Banda’s home. “Well, they had that drug education class at school that was just conducted by the counselors… They pulled my son out of school at about 1:40 in the afternoon and interrogated him. Police showed up at my house at 3… I let them know that they weren’t allowed in my home without a warrant… I didn’t believe you could get a warrant off of something a child says in school.” Banda continued, “We waited from 3 o’clock until 6 o’clock. They got a warrant at 6 o’clock at night and executed a warrant into my home. My husband and I are separated, and neither parent was contacted by authorities before [our son] was taken and questioned.”

The police apparently found 2 ounces of cannabis oil in her home. She fears that the state will now attempt to take her son away. She has a custody hearing on Monday.

I contacted the Garden City Police Department to verify some of the details that have been reported online. A spokesman confirmed that officers had searched Banda’s home, though he denied it was a raid. He also said the initial anti-drug program was put on entirely by the school — the police had no involvement. At that event Banda’s son apparently contradicted some of the claims made about marijuana. The school then contacted the child protection agency, which then contacted the police. Officers from the department showed up at Banda’s at home and asked her permission to conduct a search. She refused. They then obtained a warrant and searched her home. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on exactly what was found, except to say that there was “evidence” of drug activity. Banda was then arrested and her son was seized from the home. Currently, there are no criminal charges against her. The spokesman wouldn’t comment on whether charges may be forthcoming. He added that possession of marijuana is illegal in Kansas, without exception.

The absurdity here of course is that a woman could lose her custody of her child for therapeutically using a drug that’s legal for recreational use an hour to the west. It seems safe to say that the amount of the drug she had in her home was an amount consistent with personal use. (If she had been distributing, she’d almost certainly have been charged by now.)

This boy was defending his mother’s use of a drug that helps her deal with an awful condition. Because he stuck up for his mother, the state arrested her and ripped him away from her. Even if he is eventually returned to his mother (as he ought to be), the school, the town, and the state of Kansas have already done a lot more damage to this kid than Banda’s use of pot to treat her Crohn’s disease ever could.

Banda’s supporters have now set up a legal defense fund page for her at Go Fund Me.

Read more from The Watch:

Absurd appeals court ruling embodies everything that’s wrong with drug raids

By Radley Balko April 17

Mummy Proves America Is 2,400 Years Behind On Medical Marijuana

mummyemebed

Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons.

A 2,400-year-old “Siberian Ice Maiden” apparently knew something that not all US lawmakers do: Cannabis is a perfect palliative for cancer.
Discovered in 1993 by archaeologist Natalia Polosmak, the mummified remains of this woman, also known as the “Princess of Ukok,” were recently examined by a team of Russian scientists. They found that the woman, who was heavily tattooed and died when she was between 20 and 30 years old, suffered from and ultimately succumbed to breast cancer.
“‘I am quite sure of the diagnosis — she had cancer,” one of the scientists told the Siberian Times. “She was extremely emaciated. Given her rather high rank in society and the information scientists obtained studying mummies of elite Pazyryks, I do not have any other explanation of her state. Only cancer could have such an impact.”
The researchers also believe that the woman used cannabis to treat herself. A container of the herb was found in her burial chamber, along with a “cosmetics bag.”
“Probably for this sick woman, sniffing cannabis was a forced necessity,” another scientist said, noting that wine, hashish, opium, henbane, mandrake, aconite, and Indian hemp were all used at the time as painkillers. “And she was often in altered state of mind. We can suggest that through her could speak the ancestral spirits and gods. Her ecstatic visions in all likelihood allowed her to be considered as some chosen being, necessary and crucial for the benefit of society. She can be seen as the darling of spirits and cherished until her last breath.”
Hey, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania: Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. (Siberian Times)