Pubdate: Fri, 01 May 2015
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2015 Star Advertiser
Author: Donald Bradley, Kansas City Star


KANSAS CITY, MO. - Shona Banda says she had a clear choice: Live in 
misery or use medical marijuana to ease her Crohn's disease and risk 
going to jail.

Turned out to be an easy call for the Garden City, Kan., woman. She 
said her symptoms eased to the point where she could return to work 
and once again play with her young son.

But she didn't count on that same son, now 11, speaking out in school 
recently about the benefits of medical marijuana, including saying 
that it had saved his mother's life. School officials contacted 
police, who searched her house and found marijuana and cannabis oil.

That's where her old choice took a new turn. Police didn't take her 
to jail. Authorities took her son away and put him in protective state custody.

A month ago Banda, 37, was a massage therapist eking out a living in 
the back room of a health food store.

Today her story has gone global. More than 84,000 people have signed 
an online petition supporting her. Signatures have come from across 
the United States as well as Spain, France, India, Austria, Sweden, 
Switzerland, Singapore, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

As prosecutors in Finney County consider charges against Banda, a 
GoFundMe account has produced nearly $40,000 in donations for her 
possible legal fight.

Part of the outrage is that had she lived an hour to the west, in 
Colorado, she would have been perfectly fine having pot in the house.

"Them taking her son made Shona the perfect storm," said Sarah Swain, 
Banda's attorney.

Even conservative radio commentator Glenn Beck chimed in, criticizing 
the "smugness" of the police officers who responded to Banda's house 
and questioning the merit of prosecuting marijuana cases.

Hold on, says Eric Voth, a Topeka physician and longtime marijuana opponent.

"Until all the reports are in, I would urge people to take pause," 
Voth said. "I can't presume to know what happened in this case. I 
know a lot of people are trying to voice compassion, but when police 
and child agencies take a kid out of a home, they do so with serious 

Voth says marijuana has serious toxic and long-term effects, and 
causes domestic and spousal violence.

Lisa Sublett, who heads the patient advocacy group Bleeding Kansas, 
thinks charges against Banda could lead to a case that changes Kansas 
law, perhaps even going to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sounds expensive for a Garden City single mom and massage therapist.

"I think the cannabis movement will make sure she has the money," Sublett said.
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