Boy Removed From Parent’s Custody After Educating Class on Medical Cannabis During Anti-Drug Education
On March 24th, 2015, Garden City, Kansas police executed a search warrant on the home of a medical marijuana user after her 11-year old son spoke out against an anti-drug class conducted by his school, according to the Washington Post.
Shona Banda, a sufferer of Crohn’s Disease and a cannabis-for-medical-use-advocate, has used cannabis oil to successfully treat the condition. Crohn’s disease, also known as Crohn syndrome, and regional enteritis, is an inflammatory bowel disease that can affect all parts of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. Crohn’s can also cause complications such as anemia, skin rashes, painful inflammation of the eyes, and arthritis. In addition, Crohn’s patients face a higher risk of bowel cancer as a result of commonly occurring bowel obstruction.
Kansas has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. A first time possession charge – on any amount of pot – can lead to jail for one year plus a $1,000 fine. Get caught a second time and offenders face a maximum penalty of three-and-a-half years on prison as well as a $100,000 fine.
Meanwhile, a few hours away in Colorado, the Denver Police Department encouraged its citizens on April 19th via Twitter to “consume responsibly” amid the celebration of “4/20” this past weekend. Colorado voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in November of 2013 and, according to CNN, has collected $53 million in tax revenue since the law’s implementation in January of 2014. Further estimates by the state project that it will collect $184,000,000 in tax revenue over the first 18 months that Marijuana will have been legal for recreational use.
The disparity between the two neighboring states highlights the ridiculous nature of the war on drugs, and the lack of understanding regarding the abilities of parents who use medical marijuana to treat illnesses, as well as the effects that use of medical grade cannabis has users.
Yesterday, Banda’s son was temporarily placed in state custody. Although she has not been charged yet, the District Attorney is considering filing charges against her that include possession with the intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, and child endangerment.
Banda’s son publicly disagreed with some of the points that were made during a school-sponsored anti-drug presentation. Subsequently, school officials notified police, and her child was removed from school and interviewed by police without any notification given to Banda or the child’s father. An hour and a half later, the police showed up at Banda’s home and asked for permission to search the home. Banda denied the police officers entry, and they lobbied for a search warrant. The search warrant was obtained and her home was searched.
Police found 2 ounces of cannabis oil, a common amount for personal use, and an amount not likely to be distributed. During the hearing Monday, the court found that the child was endangered by remaining in the home, and elected to keep him in state custody.
If this case were in California, CPS and the juvenile court would likely handle this case differently. Since the holding in In re Drake M., my 2012 published appellate opinion, CPS agencies are reluctant to remove children from parents who have lawful medical marijuana recommendations. Only where there are signs of neglect will CPS get involved. I have spoken to social workers who state it is their office’s policy not to remove children under facts like these. Medical marijuana is also not criminalized anymore in California.
I have represented many parents who used medical marijuana. Contact my office today for a consultation about your rights.