Since March of 2014, Truth in Media has covered the work of cannabis oil activist and Crohn’s disease sufferer Shona Banda, who has successfully used cannabis oil to manage her disease and developed her own inexpensive method to extract it. However, Banda’s story took a dramatic turn recently when her home was raided by police and her son was seized by the Kansas Department for Children and Families after he spoke out about his mother’s cannabis oil treatment during an anti-drug presentation at school. Truth in Media’s exclusive interview with Banda about the State of Kansas’ seizure of her son went viral and attracted worldwide mainstream media attention from outlets like The Washington Post and ABC’s The View.
Last week, Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier announced that Shona Banda would be facing five criminal counts related to the cannabis oil and paraphernalia items that were found in her home during the aforementioned April raid by Garden City police. Truth in Media spoke exclusively with Banda last week about those charges, three of which are felonies.
Yesterday, as Banda surrendered to Finney County authorities, her attorney Sarah Swain held a press conference, which was captured on video by Jennifer Winn, a well-known Kansas-based political activist who mounted an unsuccessful-but-serious run for the Republican nomination for governor of Kansas in 2014.
Swain said that she intends to challenge the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a hardcore Schedule 1 narcotic with no medical use as a part of Banda’s defense and that she’s willing to take her case to the Supreme Court if necessary.
“The real issue to me in this case is not just about Shona Banda — it’s why do we have marijuana classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which requires… that there be no medicinal benefits to that substance such as metamphetamine or heroin or crack cocaine… There are hundreds of studies that will tell you [the medical benefits of] marijuana,” said Swain.
She continued, “The fact that this country continues the War on Drugs, which is really just a war on families and a war on the poor is absolutely ridiculous, and it’s our goal with this case to, not just to change the way that Shona Banda is treated here in Garden City, KS, but to take this case every step of the way to litigate it all the way up to the United States Supreme Court, if we need to, to make sure that this drug is no longer classified as a Schedule 1 drug, and as soon as it’s classified as something less than that, millions of people’s lives will be positively affected by that change.”
When a reporter asked Swain whether she would be challenging the constitutionality of authorities’ interrogation of Banda’s child at school without parental permission and the use of its findings as probable cause for a raid on her home, Swain said, “My strategy is to do what’s best for my client first, and what’s best for Shona Banda is that the tactics that were employed by DCF, Department for Children and Families, in questioning her child and the tactics that were employed by the Garden City Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department are thoroughly litigated. I certainly think there are some issues that exist with the constitutionality of the way the information was gathered, the search warrant was prepared, the eventual search of her house was done, and I will litigate all of those issues fully, but I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to litigate this issue even at the district court level as if this is a case that can change the law, not just here, not just in Garden City, not just in Kansas, but throughout the entire country. That’s what our goal is, and I know it’s a lofty goal, but I think that it’s an incredibly important goal.”
Swain noted that the Banda could be facing over 30 years in prison if she is convicted on all five charges. “She’s 38, so not only is it essentially a life sentence, but this is a woman who was using cannabis to treat a disease, Crohn’s disease, that’s absolutely debilitating, so not only is it that she’s facing life in prison just due to the years, but, essentially, it’s a death sentence if she is sent to prison and does not have access to the treatment that she was using that cured her of her Crohn’s disease and allowed her to live a somewhat normal life,” said Swain.
Swain noted that Banda could be facing additional personal risk in terms of years behind bars and potential loss of custody of her son due to her decision to let her case be a battleground for a legal fight over the federal government’s classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic, but that Banda is willing to take that risk.
Swain also said that the case is important to her personally as her father is a Vietnam veteran who uses cannabis to manage his post-traumatic stress disorder.
Banda’s bond was set at $50,000, and some of the funds raised by her supporters through a GoFundMe page were used to post bond after a hearing on Tuesday morning. At the press conference on Monday, Sarah Swain called on supporters of medical marijuana around the world to continue donating to the GoFundMe page to assist Banda in what is likely to be a protracted legal fight.
In January of 2012, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America Patient Education Committee issued a statement which read, “The CCFA does support the calls by the various health organizations urging review of marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule 1 controlled substance, with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and the potential development of cannabanoid-based medications.” Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule 1 narcotic prevents its potential medical benefits from being directly studied by scientists in a clinical setting.
Back in September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode noting that the federal government holds a patent on medical cannabis despite the fact that it classifies the substance as having no medical use. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.