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Stores Reopened, Charges Dropped After TN Raid on Legal CBD Gummies

Rutherford County, Tenn. District Attorney Jennings Jones announced Wednesday that his office is dropping all charges, ranging from public nuisance violations to felony drug charges, against the 23 stores and shopkeepers that had been targeted in “Operation: Candy Crush.”

Truth in Media reported last month that Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh had launched the county-wide raid, shuttering stores and issuing indictments to those selling non-THC hemp cannabidiol (CBD) gummies, despite the fact that such products had been legalized in Tennessee in 2014.

The Tennessean notes that Judge Royce Taylor had ordered that the stores be reopened just days after the raid.

According to NewsChannel5, District Attorney Jones’ statement read, “[Two assistants from the District Attorney’s office] made TBI officials aware of our concerns that several lab reports they had issued declared that edible products that had been purchased by police officers contained a substance called cannabidiol and listed that substance as a Schedule VI controlled substance.”

The statement continued, “It now appears that the TBI lab reports, if they had been accurately written, should have stated that their findings were ‘inconclusive’ as to whether cannabidiol is a controlled substance. The cannabidiol substance detected by the TBI lab in the edible candies is identical in composition to the same extract from hemp products, which are distinct under the law from marijuana products.”

Jones said that the TBI would be returning the stores’ property to them.

The products seized by police were commercially-available CBD gummies with packaging indicating that they were derived from hemp.

Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lisa Marchesoni shifted blame for the raid in an email to The Tennessean, saying, “The Sheriff’s Office was acting on orders of the court. When an indictment or court order comes to the Sheriff’s Office, we are required to serve the documents.”

Local store owner Stacey Hamilton said, “From the moment I found out what they were doing, I knew I had committed no crime… This has caused an enormous cost to all the store owners. I don’t think they’ll apologize in nearly as public a way as they condemned us as drug dealers.”

The store owners targeted in the county-wide raid now plan to file civil suits.

In the initial press conference announcing the raid last month, detectives seemed unaware of the nature of the products that they had seized. When a reporter asked Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold what the products are used for, he said, “It’s used to get high.”

“No, it’s not. It doesn’t have THC in it,” a reporter said.

“Then why are they buying it?” Chief Arnold replied.

When the reporter explained that it is used as a medicinal product and that it is legal, Chief Arnold said, “We’ll check on that.”

Characterizing Tennessee laws on hemp-derived CBD products, Tennessee Hemp Industries Assocation president Joe Kirkpatrick said in a post on Facebook, “All Industrial Hemp products, including cannabidiol (CBD) are fully legal in Tennessee without a prescription.”

In CBD-Legal Tennessee, Cops Raid Shops Selling Non-THC CBD Gummies

Police in Rutherford County, Tenn. padlocked 23 stores accused of selling non-THC cannabidiol (CBD) gummies in a county-wide raid called Operation: Candy Crush on Monday. The multi-agency raid included detectives from Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department, Murfreesboro Police, Smyrna Police, and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

WREG-TV notes that 21 individuals have received indictments for selling the products.

However, given that the sale of hemp products and the possession of non-THC CBD products had been legalized in the state in recent years, questions have been raised as to the legality of the raid.

These CBD products do not contain significant quantities of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that produces intoxication, and are mainly popular for medicinal uses, such as symptom management in seizure disorders.

A 2014 Tennessee law redefined hemp-derived products containing less than 0.3 percent THC as an industrial product rather than a controlled substance. A 2016 law created a pilot program for cultivating hemp and a licensing system for distributors.

“Any person who makes only retail sales of industrial hemp obtained from a licensed processor or distributor will not be required to obtain a license,” notes HB 2032.

[RELATED: Tennessee Governor Signs Cannabis Oil Legalization Bill into Law]

While those laws created a legal marketplace for hemp-derived CBD, another 2015 law, SB 0280, redefined the state definition of the controlled substance marijuana to exclude marijuana-derived CBD products with less than 0.9 percent THC, which stops short of creating a legal marketplace for those distinctly different but similar products, but prevents marijuana-derived possessors from being busted under pot laws.

While the TBI has not yet announced which products were seized in the raid and it is possible that some of the products seized were not made from hemp, the products depicted in a Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department Facebook post as examples of those items seized appear to be hemp-derived CBD gummies, which distributors claim are legal.

Tennessee Hemp Industries Association president Joe Kirkpatrick told The Tennessean, “Presently, under the new law, a person can possess an industrial hemp product. If in fact the products they’ve seized derived from industrial hemp, then the DA has broken federal law.” Federal law prohibits law enforcement agencies that receive federal funds from interfering in the cultivation and distribution of licensed industrial hemp.

Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said, “We feel these stores are marketing these items toward minors. These items can commonly be confused by a child as candy and are illegal.” However, law enforcement officials acknowledge that the products cost between 7$ to $70, multiple times more expensive than traditional candy gummies.

District Attorney Jennings Jones claimed, “If you possess this without a prescription, you have broken the law. If you are selling this without a prescription or if you’re not a pharmacy selling it to someone with a prescription for it, you have broken the law.”

Truth in Media contacted several pharmacies in the state and none carry CBD products. A manager at a Nashville-based vape shop who did not want to be identified told Truth in Media that his store had previously carried hemp CBD gummies, but stopped prior to the raid out of confusion over different agencies’ interpretations of the legality of the products.

State Rep. Jeremy Faison (R-District 11) said in a Facebook post on the incident, “There is a whole lot more to this story than what is being reported. I spoke with the TBI tonight. Several of these stores were selling products from China and other countries. After the TBI took products to their lab, they found that multiple compounds of substances were found in packaged material and they weren’t even labeled to have the compounds found. Melatonin, sugar, ibuprofen, Benadryl, and other things like that were found. From what I have been told nothing was necessarily dangerous or found to be an intoxicant.”

“This is one of the very main reasons we should pass the Medical Cannabis Only bill. We can have a regulated, predictable, safe, and lab tested product. Tennesseans should never be left to purchase something that is derived from the cannabis plant without knowing exactly what they are getting,” Faison added. “I imagine that the majority of the charges will not turn into convictions. One day in the very near future, Tennessee will realize 3 things: cannabis is not the problem, cannabis is far safer than many FDA approved pills, and cannabis actually does work for some very sick Tennesseans.”

According to the Times Free Press, Rep. Faison and Sen. Steve Dickerson(R-Nashville) introduced the Medical Cannabis Only bill on January 18, which would expand medical marijuana access to individuals with qualified serious medical conditions.

The 21 individuals indicted in this case are due in court on February 16.

“Let Doctors Decide” Cannabis Oil Bill Passes 40-0 in VA Senate

Richmond, VA – A unanimous 40-0 vote in the Virginia Senate on Monday saw the passage of a “Let Doctors Decide” bill, officially known as the Joint Commission on Health Care bill SB 726, which allows Virginia doctors to recommend the use of THC-A oil or cannabidiol oil – commonly referred to as CBD oil – as a treatment option for diagnosed conditions.

With companion legislation HB 1251 in the Virginia House of Delegates passing with a unanimous vote on Friday, and since both bills are identical, the bills will “crossover” to the opposite house for a vote, then head to the desk of Gov. Ralph Northam, also a doctor, who has previously voiced support for Let Doctors Decide medical marijuana laws in the Commonwealth.

“I finally decided that I needed to advocate for the physicians being the decision makers,” Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, a doctor who introduced the Senate bill, told the Staunton News Leader. “We, physicians, are the ones that follow the literature and know which treatments are best for different conditions. The literature on medical cannabis is going to be evolving rapidly now, and because of this, it is not a decision that should be in the hands of the legislature. Instead, it should be with physicians.”

Sen. Dunnavant, who is a licensed physician in Virginia, said that she “always thought of it helping my patients that have breast cancer.” Many Virginians suffering from a plethora of conditions— including cancer, PTSD, Crohn’s disease and MS— lobbied for this reform, as current law allows Virginians to possess cannabis oil solely for the treatment of severe epilepsy.

“Honestly, until this week, I’ve always thought of it helping my patients that have breast cancer, especially the young ones that have children and have so many things to get done, but feel so terrible as they go through chemotherapy,” Sen. Dunnavant continued. “After this week, I won’t be able to forget Tamra Netzel, the patient and my constituent with multiple sclerosis that testified on behalf of this bill in committee. My niece also has MS and having the opportunity to help others in similar situations means a lot to me.”

[RELATED: Truth in Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent on Cannabis as Medicine]

Delegate Benjamin L. Cline, who introduced the House bill, explained both the medical benefits of CBD/THC-A oil and the foresight in giving doctors the ability to “make recommendation based on the most up to date research and data.”

“CBD/THC-A oil has been proven to effectively and safely help patients address symptoms of intractable epilepsy and manage pain,” Cline told the Staunton News Leader. “By expanding the ability to recommend CBD/THC-A oil, we are giving doctors the freedom to make a recommendation based on the most up to date research and data, just as they do for any other medication they prescribe.”

Additionally, Jenn Michelle Pedini, both a cancer survivor and the executive director of Virginia NORML, addressed the significant impact of medical cannabis laws on Virginia’s growing opiate epidemic.

“Medical cannabis laws have demonstrated significant impact on the opiate crisis,” Pedini told the News Leader. “States with such laws see on average a 25% reduction in opioid fatalities. We are losing three Virginians every day to opioid overdose. It’s time to give doctors in the Commonwealth the ability to utilize this powerful tool in mitigating addiction and overdose.”

If Gov. Ralph Northam signs the bill into law, Virginia could serve as an exemplary model of a state with a limited medical marijuana program embracing an expansive reform.

Shona Banda’s Lawyers File Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit Against State of Kansas

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.

To find out more about Banda’s story, click here.

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.


Shona Banda’s Attorney Plans to Fight Cannabis’ Classification As Schedule 1 Narcotic

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.



EXCLUSIVE: Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda, Now Facing Felony Charges, Speaks Out

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.

[RELATED: The Cannabis Oil Invention Shona Banda Wouldn’t Hold Secret]

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.

[RELATED: Shona Banda Explains Her Remarkable Story On How Cannabis Oil Saved Her Life]

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.

To find out more about Banda’s story, click here.

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.


Texas Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Cannabis Oil for Epilepsy Sufferers

On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 339 into law, thus legalizing the medicinal use of low-THC, non-euphoric cannabis oil for the treatment of intractable epileptic seizures. According to The Texas Tribune, Governor Abbott said that the bill offers “healing and hope for children who are afflicted by relentless seizures caused by epilepsy.

The bill only addresses the use of low-THC cannabidiol, also called CBD oil. As he signed the legislation, Governor Abbott specifically noted that he does not support the legalization of higher-THC marijuana for recreational or medical use and said, “I remain convinced that Texas should not legalize marijuana, nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana to be used for medicinal purposes. As governor, I will not allow it; SB 339 does not open the door to marijuana in Texas.

KVUE-TV notes that the law requires patients to obtain approval from two different specialists in order to seek treatment with cannabis oil. The Texas Department of Public Safety will be charged with regulating cannabis oil manufacturers and dispensaries and must license at least three dispensaries by September 1, 2017, assuming that there are a sufficient number of qualified applicants by that time. Only neurologists and epileptologists will be allowed to prescribe cannabis oil under Texas law. Truth in Media’s Rachel Blevins noted that requiring doctors to prescribe (rather than recommend) the federally-illegal medication may put them at risk of federal prosecution. SB 339 limits cannabis oil potency to a THC ratio of 20 to 1.

According to KXAN-TV, Governor Abbott issued a statement on the legislation, which read, “There is currently no cure for intractable epilepsy and many patients have had little to no success with currently approved drugs. However, we have seen promising results from CBD oil testing and with the passage of this legislation, there is now hope for thousands of families who deal with the effects of intractable epilepsy every day.

A statement by Marijuana Policy Project’s Texas political director Heather Fazio read, “While this program leaves most patients behind and we’re concerned about its functionality, today is one for the history books. The Texas Legislature is sending a resounding message: Marijuana is medicine.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode exposing the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the embedded video player, found below.


Texas House Approves Limited Medical Marijuana Bill

On Monday, the Texas State House voted, 96-34, to pass a bill that would give qualifying epilepsy patients access to medicinal oils containing CBD, one of the cannabinoids found in marijuana.

Senate Bill 339, which is sponsored by Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), was passed in the Texas Senate on May 7, and will now go to Gov. Greg Abbott for approval.

The Texas Tribune reported that the bill, which would require the state to regulate the distribution of CBD oil, would also require the Texas Department of Public Safety “to license at least three dispensing organizations by Sept. 1, 2017, provided that at least that many applicants have met the state’s requirements,” and have had CBD oil prescribed to them by a neurologist or epileptologist.

According to CBS DFW, the bill is “extremely unlikely to provide patients with relief,” due to the fact that it requires doctors to “engage in conduct prohibited by federal law” by forcing them to prescribe marijuana to patients, which could leave doctors facing criminal sanctions.

The Texas Tribune noted that Texas is one of 16 states where marijuana is illegal for both medical and recreational use, and that while 13 states have strict laws permitting CBD oil for certain medical conditions, 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing wider medical marijuana use.

Prior to the vote, state Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), the bill’s House sponsor, emphasized the fact that this bill would not be legalizing the full use of marijuana. “It is also not something you can get high on. It has a low risk of abuse,” Klick said. “This is not something that can be smoked. It is ingested orally.”

In Sept. 2014, investigative journalist Ben Swann released an episode of the Truth in Media Project that documented the federal government’s involvement with marijuana. He revealed that although the government claimed cannabis cannot be used as medicine, it holds the patent on cannabis as medicine.


Swann noted that in order to get a high from cannabis, there must be a high level of one cannabinoid: THC.

Jesse Stanley, one of the brothers who helped to develop a strain of cannabis that had high levels of CBD, for a little girl named Charlotte Figi, who was battling seizures, told Truth in Media about the many medicinal benefits from the plant. He said that in addition to stoping the metastasizing of cancer, CBD also helps with seizures, and that after using CBD oil for a week, Figi went a week without having any seizures.

“CBD is known to be a neuro-protectant, it is also one of the few things that causes neuro-genesis. So its not just seizures that this helps in epileptics, it is auto-immune disorders whether that’s cancer, crohn’s, lupus, there are so many different types of things,” Stanley said.

Senate Bill 339 is not the only bill currently proposing a form of marijuana legislation in Texas. A bill that would allow possession and delivery of marijuana as early as September 2015 was passed by the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee on May 6, in a 5-2 vote.

House Bill 2165 is sponsored by state Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview). He promoted the bill on religious grounds, arguing that marijuana comes from God and should not be banned by the government.

According to the Texas Tribune, Simpson urged House members to back SB 339. “Many people think it’s government doing too little too late, but it is a step forward for medical freedom and personal responsibility,” Simpson said.

Heather Fazio, the Texas political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, told CBS DFW that this bill has potential to be historic, because it shows that the Texas legislature is acknowledging the medical value of marijuana. However, she also said that lawmakers have missed several opportunities to amend the bill in ways that would aid Texans, and that as a result, “not a single patient will be helped by this legislation.” 

“Nearly half of the states in the country have effectively implemented medical marijuana programs, and I have no doubt Texas could adopt an even better one,” Fazio said. “We need a law that ensures seriously ill patients who could benefit from medical marijuana are able to access it. There is no reason to put it off any longer.”


VIDEO: Without Warrant, Cops Block Cannabis Oil Activist Shona Banda from Entering Her Own Home

Last week, BenSwann.com obtained an exclusive interview with Shona Banda, a cannabis oil activist and Crohn’s disease survivor whose 11-year-old son was taken by Kansas’ Department for Children and Families and whose home was searched by police after her son asserted medical cannabis facts during an anti-drug class at school. During the interview, Banda mentioned the fact that she had filmed the encounter with police and DCF at her home, which she characterized as a raid, and that video of the incident would be made available after she had an opportunity to post it online.

The video, now online and seen above, appears to show the fact that, upon her arrival at her Garden City, KS home, local police and DCF agents were already on her property. At the time that the video was taken, police on the scene had yet to obtain a warrant and were waiting for a judge to sign off on one. Despite the fact that a search warrant had not yet been issued, officers were seen searching her backyard. Banda refused to allow the officers into her home without a warrant, and, subsequently, police refused to allow her to enter her own home, claiming that it had been secured in preparation for the impending search.

At one point, an officer denied Banda entry into the home to retrieve diabetes medication for a child in her care, telling her that police would contact EMS if the child slipped into a diabetic attack as a result of the refusal to allow her inside. The officer appeared to attempt to use the diabetic attack as leverage to coerce Banda into waiving her right to refuse a search by suggesting that he could enter the home to get the medication, but informing her that she could not. DCF bureaucrats said that Banda could not be allowed into the home until officers determined whether it was safe for children. Banda was told by police many times that she was free to leave her own home, but could not enter.

Following Banda’s interview on BenSwann.com and a report by The Human Solution International, her story was picked up by Radley Balko at The Washington Post and subsequently went viral. Banda’s supporters have started a GoFundMe fundraising campaign, which has already raised over $25,000, to help with her legal expenses.

The Garden City Telegram notes that Banda is set to appear in court today at a hearing at Finney County District Court, where she will fight for custody of her 11-year-old son. According to The Daily Mail, Banda’s son, who had been originally placed in his father’s custody temporarily, was seized from his father on Thursday in advance of today’s hearing.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode reporting on the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the player below.

Tennessee Legislature Unanimously Passes Cannabis Oil Legalization Bill

On Monday, a bill that would legalize the use of low-THC cannabis oil in the treatment of severe seizure disorders and epilepsy passed unanimously through both chambers of the Tennessee General Assembly. The bill’s Senate sponsor, State Senator Becky Massey (R-Knoxville) said, according to The Tennessean, “Today we have the power to make a real change. These people are suffering, this medication works and is safe.” The proposal is headed to Governor Haslam’s desk, where, if he chooses to sign it, it would become law.

A significant number of Tennessee families with children suffering from seizure disorders had begun to leave the state for Colorado over the past few years in an effort to obtain treatment with cannabis oil. One-year-old Josie Mathes’ mother Stacie fought tirelessly for her daughter’s right to seek treatment and said, “It was our hope and dream that it would [be approved], and then for it to actually happen, it’s life changing. It’s lifesaving. I think that’s the most important part of all of this. I’m speechless.”

Knoxville resident Sandy Bush, who hopes to treat her two-year-old son Cameron with cannabis oil, said of the bill’s passage, “You’re already dealing with taking care of a child that requires a lot more effort, and then to have to work so hard to get something that you really feel like could help them, it’s just a big relief…” Tragically, a three-year-old Memphis girl named Chloe Grauer passed away from a severe seizure last year while waiting for a cannabis oil legalization bill to pass.

State Representative Jeremy Faison (R-Cosby), who sponsored the bill in the House, told WATE-TV, “Tonight we proved that you can appeal to your legislator and move heaven and earth and we did that tonight, it gives me hope in the legislative process.”

Though it is not yet known whether Governor Haslam intends to sign the bill, he supported last year’s proposal for a study on the use of cannabis oil for seizure disorders, and a spokesman from his administration said that he would defer to the will of the legislature on the issue.

The bill would require those seeking treatment to obtain a legal order of recommendation in order to use cannabis oil and falls short of creating a legal marketplace in Tennessee. Tennesseans would consequently be required to obtain cannabis oil from states that do have a legal marketplace such as Colorado.

In September of last year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode dealing with the government’s mixed messages on medical cannabis. Watch it in the below-embedded video player.

Cannabis Oil Legalization Bill Advances Through TN House Committee

Tennessee, a hard red and deeply conservative state, is currently taking a long look at marijuana prohibition, as the state’s legislature is considering an array of bills that could weaken bans on marijuana. According to The Tennessean, one such bill just advanced past its first legislative obstacle. HB 0197, a bill introduced by Republican House Rep. Jeremy Faison, would legalize the medical use of cannabis oil in the treatment of patients suffering from serious seizure disorders. The House Criminal Justice Subcommittee approved the bill last Tuesday, meaning it now moves on to the House Criminal Committee. The above-embedded footage by WSMV, published approximately two weeks before the committee would ultimately approve the bill, shows some of the individuals who testified at the hearings leading up to the bill’s advancement.

The committee tweaked the proposal’s language, adding a requirement that cannabis oil patients obtain a doctor’s note. Medical cannabis oil extracts lack the THC content that provides the euphoric feeling associated with marijuana.

Committee Chairman William Lamberth (R-Cottontown) offered his support for the bill during the hearing. Tennessee Republicans, who are promoting the legislation, control the legislature, giving it a fair chance of passing in a state that legalized hemp last year.

Cannabis oil legalization became a political issue in the state after Tennessee families with children suffering from seizure disorders, some of which resulting in thousands of seizures per day, began to plan moves out of state in an effort to seek treatment for their children. FOX-13 notes that Memphis three-year-old Chloe Grauer tragically passed away from a severe seizure late last year while waiting for a cannabis oil legalization bill to pass in Tennessee. According to The Leaf Chronice, Chloe Grauer’s grandmother Gail Grauer was present at the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee hearing in honor of her granddaughter.

In addition to the cannabis oil bill, the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Subcommittee will consider a bill, sponsored by Rep. Harold Love (D-Nashville), that would decriminalize the possession and casual exchange of less than a half ounce of marijuana and adjust penalties for possession and casual exchange of up to one ounce to a $100 fine without jail time. Another bill sponsored by Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) would redefine the state’s definition of drug paraphernalia to exclude products used to consume marijuana.

The Leaf Chronicle notes that recent Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University polls demonstrated that 3 in 4 Tennesseans support some degree of marijuana legalization.

Tennessee NORML president Doak Patton said, “I was there yesterday when the [cannabis oil] bill passed the subcommittee… The whole room was filled with mothers, fathers, grandparents and sick kids. It was fairly amazing to see… Last year, I knew almost all of these people by name. Now there are so many, I can’t keep count.”

In September of last year, Ben Swann released an expose, seen below, on the federal government’s mixed messages on cannabis oil.

Angela Brown: 1 Of 2 Charges Dropped For Mother Who Treated Son With Cannabis Oil

Madison, MN- A judge dismissed one of the charges faced by Angela Brown, a Minnesota mother who was initially facing two child endangerment charges for administering cannabis oil to her son Trey.

Brown and her attorney, Michael Hughes, had filed motions to dismiss the charges last December, arguing that there was not probable cause to believe that Mrs. Brown committed child endangerment, and had requested that the Court dismiss the charges in the ‘Interest of Justice’.

The state has claimed that Brown administering medical cannabis to Trey was “sale” of a controlled substance in violation of Minnesota law which justified the child endangerment charges. A press release from Hughes stated that the government claims Brown’s actions were “dangerous and injurious” to her son and that the government had also “openly threatened the Brown family with other legal proceedings if there was any future treatment with medical cannabis by the Brown’s son” in its brief.

Judge Thomas Von Hon ruled that Brown giving cannabis oil to her son was not the sale of a controlled substance. Van Hon did not dismiss the remaining child endangerment charge claiming that administering medicinal cannabis put Trey in danger, and soon a jury will decide if Brown’s decision to treat Trey actually constituted child endangerment.

“I am very thankful that the Judge agreed with us regarding Count 1. Clearly, this was not child endangerment based on a controlled substance crime. We understand the Court’s rational for not dismissing Count 2. As long as the County Attorney maintains their position that treating a 15 year old with cannabis oil is in and of itself ‘dangerous’, then that is a factual dispute that only a jury can resolve. The Minnesota state legislature and a majority of other state legislatures belteve(sic) that treating children who are suffering from certain diseases or injuries with cannabis is not only safe, but effective. We agree, which is why we will continue to fight these charges,” said Hughes. He also noted that Brown will be in need of securing medical experts to testify at the trial.

Angela Brown was charged last summer after staff at Trey’s school found out he was taking cannabis oil to treat seizures and severe pain he had been suffering from as a result of a head injury during a baseball game. Brown’s decision to treat Trey with cannabis came after trying several other treatment options that provided no relief to Trey. The state has since held onto its argument that Angela Brown has harmed her son by giving him cannabis; medical marijuana will be legal in Minnesota this July.

In a January 9 response to the government’s brief opposing motions to dismiss the charges, Hughes challenged the prosecution’s insinuation that Angela was reckless in how she was giving the oil to her son. Hughes stated that the cannabis oil given to Trey was “a one-to-one ratio (1:1) of THC and CBD oil, and according to the bottle had 150 mg of each” and that “CBD rich oil is not going to have the intoxicating effects that an oil that is rich in THC would have. Many medical cannabis patients seek to avoid the intoxicating effects of THC, but they need some of the pain relief properties of the THC. They get products that are CBD rich, like the one-to-one oil at question in this case.”

Ben Swann has reported on combinations of THC and CBD oil and its various benefits to people suffering from ailments such as epilepsy, Crohn’s disease and cancer, and has also reported on the federal government’s claim that cannabis is not medicine while holding two patents for its use of cannabinoids for medicinal purposes.

Hughes’s response went on to state that the Brown family had visited a laboratory in Colorado to obtain CBD-rich oil after being unable to find it in retail cannabis shops. The response stated that the oil was given to the Browns legally “from someone in Colorado who clearly cared about helping a family deal with a child suffering” from a severe injury. The response claimed that it is legal in Colorado to give away less than one ounce of cannabis.

State Senator Branden Petersen (R-Anoka) introduced a bill earlier this month encouraging the Lac qui Parle County attorney to drop the charges against Angela Brown. The bill states that “Angela Brown’s son has pain so intense that he has headaches, muscle spasms, and seizures, and has self-harming behaviors that have resulted in a broken nose, broken clavicle, and wanting to end his life”. The bill also states that Mrs. Brown attempted “all other options to help Trey cope with the pain, such as administering more than 19 different prescribed medications, dealing with his suffering for four months from a serotonin overload attributed to the prescribed medications”, and “following an emergency room visit where a doctor suggested medical cannabis, Angela obtained medical cannabis oil legally in Colorado.”

(Updated January 26th, 2014, 12:50 p.m.)

Mother Who Treated Son With Cannabis Rejects Plea Deal

Madison, MN- Angela Brown, a Minnesota mother charged with child endangerment for using medicinal cannabis oil to treat her son Trey’s pain stemming from a traumatic brain injury, appeared at Montevideo District on Monday and was offered a one-year stay of adjudication by the prosecution.

A stay of adjudication would mean that if Brown pleaded guilty, she would have no record of a conviction as long as she complied with the conditions of sentencing. Angela rejected the offer.

Defense attorney and cannabis law expert Michael Hughes said that Mrs. Brown is not guilty of child endangerment and they intend to challenge the charges. Hughes plans to file an “interest of justice” motion to dismiss the charges. Meanwhile, county family services have dropped their case against Mrs. Brown.

Three years ago Trey Brown suffered a blow to the head with a baseball, resulting in time spent in the hospital for a stroke and following coma. Angela treated Trey with medicinal cannabis after many unsuccessful attempts were made using other treatments to minimize the extreme pain Trey was experiencing. The story of Trey Brown’s injury and relief due to medicinal cannabis is one of many accounts illustrating the potential of marijuana oil and CBD oil, as documented by Ben Swann last month.

Minnesota has passed legislation to authorize the use of medical marijuana that will take effect July 2015.

Patrick McClellan of Minnesotans for Compassionate Care has requested that Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton to show support for Brown. Independent Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Hannah Nicollet also called on Dayton to convince the prosecutor to drop the charges.

The video below details what led the Brown family to use medical cannabis oil, and the legal troubles that ensued.

Exclusive Video Interview: Dr. Gary Miller Says Veterans With PTSD Need Access To Cannabis

After watching Ben Swann’s latest video titled Truth In Media: Feds Say Cannabis Is Not Medicine While Holding The Patent On Cannabis As Medicine, Dr. Gary Miller immediately contacted BenSwann.com to let us know that he is part of a landmark medical marijuana study for Veterans.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Gary Miller told Ben Swann writer Evan Mulch that veterans with PTSD now have the opportunity to participate in the Veterans Post Traumatic Stress & Medical Cannabis Study and he hopes to see 10,000 Veterans enroll in the study in the coming months.

When asked why it is so important that Veterans have access to cannabis, Dr. Miller said:

“Right now it’s the opinion of the study group that when the Veterans Health Administration reestablishes effective medical programs, the United States will begin as a nation to honor its commitment to the Veteran community and further it is an opinion of the study group that currently the VA is failing the Veterans as evidenced by the hourly rate of Veterans’ suicides.”

Dr. Miller went on to state that the federal government did not give permission for the study to take place but since it has been approved by an Institutional Review Board, the study is exempt from needing federal government approval.

As a benefit to the study, Enigami Health Management donated $300K of in-kind technology in the form of a patient health record which is being used in the study in order to keep track of a person’s cannabinoid levels.

“But what’s very unique about it is that we are able to track the cannabinoid levels, up to 11 different cannabinoids, and we are able to link that to the Veteran’s symptom relief. We are able track that not only on the cannabis but also over-the-counter medication and prescribed medications — and that populates into a nice little graph in order for the Veterans or caregivers, their doctors and pharmacists at the dispensary to help the Veterans determine the best medicine for them.”

When Dr. Miller was asked what he expected to get out of the study, he said:

“It’s very simple, medical cannabis…does it help or not help Veterans suffering from PTSD?”.

Dr. Miller said that all Veterans who want to participate in the study to move to one of the 23 states approved or Washington D.C and he hopes that Veterans in every state can get the opportunity to join the study in the near future.

“Hopefully our study will help guide policy, not only with the VA but for our administration and Congress.”

Ben Swann reporter Derrick Broze recently spoke with Heather Linebaugh about her experiences with alternative treatments to PTSD, to read that article click HERE.

If you are a Veteran and you would like to sign-up for the study, go to www.vetptsdstudy.org. To learn more about the VHA Directive click HERE. To view the public announcement about the study that was released on July 4th, click HERE.