Attorneys Sarah Swain and Matthew Pappas have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the State of Kansas and its Department for Children and Families on behalf of cannabis oil activist and Crohn’s disease patient Shona Banda, whose 11-year-old son was taken by authorities in April of this year after he spoke out about his mother’s successful medical marijuana treatment during a public school anti-drug presentation. After Banda’s son was seized by the state, Garden City, KS police raided her home on the basis of an unauthorized interrogation of her son, allegedly finding cannabis oil constituents and paraphernalia used to make it, and charged her with 5 criminal charges. Banda faces over 30 years in prison if convicted.
Swain, who said last month that she intends to attack cannabis’ classification as a hardcore Schedule 1 narcotic with no medical use as a part of Banda’s defense, teamed up with attorney Matthew Pappas and announced the lawsuit on Banda’s behalf at a July 3 press conference in Los Angeles, according to The Garden City Telegram. The federal civil rights suit alleges that the State of Kansas and the Department for Children and Families violated Banda’s rights by taking her son.
“There’s a fundamental right in our country that if you’re doing something that is to help a condition you suffer from, and that’s the purpose of what you’re doing, then it would be inappropriate [to seize a parent’s child over the substance], unless there is an extremely important interest and a narrowly-tailored law. It would be necessary to have that situation before you would ever take a child out of somebody’s custody,” said Pappas in an interview with The Garden City Telegram. He continued, “In Kansas the issue comes down to whether or not there is a justification that the law prohibiting marijuana is narrowly tailored given the fact that she’s using it to alleviate serious pain and symptoms related to Crohn’s disease and not to get high.”
Authorities claim that DCF seized Banda’s son because evidence related to her alleged use and manufacture of cannabis oil was found within reach of her child. Banda’s legal team will reportedly argue that her use of cannabis was medicinal in nature and that the substance is less toxic than other legal household items and medications. In his interview with The Garden City Telegram, Pappas cited prior case law that upheld a parent’s right to custody of a child as fundamental under the Civil Rights Act of 1871.
Truth in Media has covered Shona Banda’s cannabis oil activism since March of 2014, as she first gained notoriety after producing her own inexpensive cannabis oil extraction method in an effort to create a home treatment for Crohn’s disease and other ailments. Truth in Media’s exclusive interviews with Banda about her custody battle and the criminal charges she faces were cited by mainstream media outlets like The Washington Post and ABC’s The View and sparked a national discussion over medical marijuana and cannabis prohibition.
Truth In Media’s latest Consider This episode takes a look at the drug war and non-violent offenders. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.