Shona Banda had been suffering from a debilitating diagnosis of Crohn's disease for nearly a decade before she took a colossal risk and tried medicinal marijuana. The only thing that made her last resort so risky was that the 38-year-old mother of two lives in Kansas, a state that has draconian drug laws.
Banda's condition was devastating. According to the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America, Crohn’s is a chronic bowel disease that causes inflammation of the intestinal tract and produces an intestine that can no longer adequately absorb food and water. This can result in mild to severe diarrhea, abdominal cramping, blood loss and anemia, as well as joint pain and swelling. Banda says her joints were in so much pain that she did most of her parenting from the couch. But it all changed when started using cannabis oil.
“I’m not in my deathbed, I’m working for the first time in four years, I’m hiking, I’m swimming, I’m able to play with my kids, I’m able to do things -- I love it,” Banda said.
She didn't do much to hide the success she experienced from self-medicating with an unjustly illicit drug. She documented her experience in a memoir titled "Live Free or Die," and also in a 2010 marijuana documentary on YouTube. She tried moving to Colorado to take advantage of the state's drug laws, but simply couldn't afford to move with her two kids.
Things took a turn for the worst when her 11-year-old son challenged drug "educators" at his school who were regurgitating refer madness propaganda to his peers. He experienced his mother's disease go into remission because of the cannabis oil she had been using, so he voiced his opinion. That came with dire consequences.
Administrators called him into their office and asked how frequently his mother was using marijuana. Soon Child Protective Services were notified and Banda quickly lost custody of her son. CPS then notified local law enforcement, and a warrant was obtained to search her home. Authorities discovered a little more than a pound of marijuana and equipment to manufacture cannabis oil. The police said that the items taken from the house were “within easy reach of the child.”
Banda turned herself in last Monday, and posted $50,000 bond with the financial help she received from a GoFundMe account set up on her behalf. But the fight is far from over. She still doesn't have custody of her son, and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Early today, I came across a story about the rapidly declining marijuana prices in Colorado, where medicinal and recreational use is considered legal. It's frustrating to juxtapose the two stories, and how extremely different Kansas and Colorado are when it comes to drug laws. The reason for the disparity lies in federal law, the fact that marijuana continues to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug with no medicinal value.
While the feds have agreed to allow states to practice their own pot laws without any government interference, the reality is that their unwillingness to reschedule marijuana and decriminalize it allows states like Kansas to destroy people's lives over a plant. Keep in mind that this is a plant that no one can overdose on, and study after study has proven that it's far less harmful than alcohol.
The war on drugs is possibly the most disingenuous campaign launched by the federal government because it has nothing to do with keeping people safe. How does prohibition benefit children if they're taken away from their families because a parent is smoking pot? It's fine to use prescription painkillers, tobacco, and alcohol, but the government draws the line on marijuana?
When we lock away people with possession of drugs, who are we keeping safe and who are we rehabilitating? Prison is supposed to be an institution that we send violent criminals to for punitive and rehabilitative reasons (although the latter is a joke), but also to keep society safe. Is Kansas safer if it sends a mother of two to prison because she had cannabis in her home to treat her well-documented illness?
According to a report released by the American Civil Liberties Union last year, there are currently 3,278 people serving life sentences without parole for nonviolent crimes, including marijuana offenses. This highlights a massive problem in our justice system, and an even bigger failure of our federal government.
When we have a president who conceded to using pot when he was younger, yet he stands by while non-violent people are being thrown in prison for doing the exact same thing, it makes me realize that we don't have a leader guiding us. Instead we have a coward pretending to be a leader.