In April, Truth in Media published an exclusive interview with Shona Banda, a cannabis oil activist and Crohn’s disease survivor whose home was raided by Garden City, KS police and 11-year-old son was seized by the Kansas Department for Children and Families after her son spoke out about medical marijuana during an anti-drug presentation in school.
Banda’s ordeal became a national issue after her interview with Truth in Media was picked up by Radley Balko at The Washington Post and discussed on a wide range of mainstream media outlets and television talk shows including ABC’s The View. Truth in Media has been covering Banda’s activism since 2014, when she went public in an interview with Ben Swann about how she uses cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s disease.
Meanwhile, The Garden City Telegram is reporting that Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier announced on Friday that five criminal charges are being filed against Shona Banda pursuant to the April raid by Garden City police. The charges, three of which are felonies, include distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property, endangering a child, unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, and two drug paraphernalia infractions. The Garden City Telegram notes that Banda could be facing anywhere between 138 to 204 months behind bars.
On Monday, Truth in Media spoke exclusively with Shona Banda about the charges that have been filed against her and her views on the cannabis oil movement that is exploding across the nation.
“I do believe that they’re trying to make an example out of me,” said Banda about the criminal charges she now faces.
She said of the state’s decision to press charges against her despite an overwhelming public show of support for her plight, “Well, they had a choice. People have made petitions [in support of Banda], over 130,000 signatures on one petition alone. I want to say that there are four or five different petitions out there. Phone calls have been made to the DA Susan Richmeier in Garden City. Letters have been written, and they still chose to charge me with felony 1 charges. They’re charging me with child endangerment, and they’re calling my machine a lab, and anyone can go on YouTube and look up what that lab consists of, because it’s ridiculous what they’re trying to charge me with.”
Garden City police claim that the raid on Banda’s home produced, according to The Garden City Telegram, “1.25 pounds of marijuana in plant, oil, joint, gel and capsule form and drug paraphernalia” along with what was characterized as a “lab used for manufacturing cannabis oil.”
Banda took particular offense to the fact that she was charged with child endangerment and said, “I think it’s absolutely ridiculous. There was no endangerment of a child, for one. For two, this plant is the most non-toxic substance on the planet, so, it’s safer to have around my house than aspirin. So the child endangerment charges I can not believe.”
Regarding the charge related to allegedly possessing or selling cannabis in close proximity to a school, she said, “They’re trying to say that it’s 1000 feet from a school. I’m several blocks away from a school. I sure would like to challenge that.”
Banda also pointed out the fact that Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier took almost two months to come up with criminal charges after the April raid on her home. “How serious of a criminal am I really if it took them this long to charge me? How much of a danger to society am I really? How can you charge someone with a level 1 felony and have those charges be out for so long. If I’m such a danger to society, why did it take this long to charge me?”
In March of 2014, Truth in Media’s Evan Mulch reported on Banda’s innovative process for inexpensively extracting cannabis oil. “My oil was the first CBD oil tested in Colorado. I literally am one of the first patients to come out publicly with this oil… I really did help start an online social media revolution of paying it forward with healing yourself and telling others about it. I helped start all this, and I couldn’t make it in Colorado, so I just moved back home [to Kansas] so I could survive,” said Banda. “I wrote my book [Live Free or Die: Reclaim your Life… Reclaim your Country!] and went to Colorado to get it published. I helped start the medical movement in Colorado.”
Meanwhile, a frenzy of non-psychoactive cannabis oil legalization bills have been passing in even the most conservative of state legislatures of late, with Tennessee and Texas recently joining the list of states that have legalized low-THC cannabis oil to treat intractable seizures. Said Banda of the low-THC movement, “I’m still for these people who are trying to pass CBD-only laws because hemp is completely legal here, you can use hemp, and use can use the materials from hemp.”
However, she said that the bills did not go far enough and that bans on psychoactive forms of cannabis oil put some sufferers at risk who need it to treat their illnesses, “I fully believe that you need the full spectrum of cannabanoids in the cannabis plant, not the hemp plant, to create homeostasis and healing within the body… Why would you continue to pervert this process by taking out one constituent from an entire plant that is helpful and only allowing that one constituent? Because it doesn’t get you ‘high’? Our endocannabinoid system is made to accept it and work with it, and it works best when it is in its whole form.”
“I started this whole process because I wanted to live and grow and be with my children. I just want to live and survive with my kids and raise my children and live long enough to see grandchildren. It’s an inalienable right to live and I shouldn’t be punished for pursuing that… I shouldn’t be prosecuted for that,” said Banda. She continued, “The people of Kansas want [medical marijuana] available to them. It makes no sense to me that people’s lives in Colorado are more important than people’s lives in Kansas. How is this the United States of America when your life means more if you’re in California, Washington, Colorado, than when you’re in Kansas or Oklahoma or Texas?”
Banda, whose supporters have launched a GoFundMe page that has raised $43,000 so far for legal expenses, said that her legal quagmire has escalated to what is likely a “150 to 200 thousand dollar process.” She called on her supporters to “get this out there as absolutely to the masses as possible, because the mainstream media is not paying attention.” She continued, “There are still too many people who do not know what is going on. This is the most heinous of crimes. Why would you take a child away from his mother because his mother is trying to live. How is that protecting anyone in my family?”
Banda’s next custody hearing where she will learn more about her chances to reunite with her son is set for July 10. She has not yet been arrested on the aforementioned five criminal counts, which have been filed but not yet processed.
She believes that her fate “depends on whether Garden City is willing to accept science.”
She continued, “Wasn’t Kansas the state that said they weren’t going to teach evolution at one point? I mean, the state of Kansas is pretty scary. I’m just hoping that they’ll accept this science with a much more open mind.”
In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode tackling the federal government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.