Mom Loses Custody After Son Talks About Her Medical Pot Use at School

Kansas doesn’t have laws allowing marijuana for medical use, so this single mom is fighting to get her son back.

Shonda Banda. (Photo: Facebook)

Apr 21, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Shaya Tayefe Mohajer is TakePart's News Editor.

A Kansas mom has temporarily lost custody of her 11-year-old son after he spoke up during an antidrug presentation at school to say marijuana helps her deal with a debilitating illness.

Shona Banda, 37, didn't get custody of her child back after a hearing Monday, and the boy is being kept in protective custody, CBS News reports. No custody ruling has been made yet—which would decide if the child's removal becomes permanent—and the judge placed a gag order on the proceedings.

The case brings into focus a patchwork of national marijuana policy that makes it legal to smoke pot for fun in some places, such as Colorado or Washington, whereas patients who want to use medical marijuana for treatments still have no legal right to it in half the country. Currently, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow medical marijuana use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and Kansas isn't one of them.

As recently as this week, President Barack Obama voiced support for medical marijuana use.

Last month, when Banda's son spoke up during a D.A.R.E. talk at school, police told the Garden City Telegram, a local newspaper, that the child said his mother and other adults were avid drug users at home. During a search, police found more than a pound of marijuana and drug paraphernalia within reach of her son.

Banda has written a book, titled Live Free or Die, about how using cannabis to treat her debilitating Crohn's disease changed her life. She has also appeared in YouTube videos as an activist for medical marijuana use.

Though medical marijuana is illegal in Kansas, Banda lives about an hour's drive from the border with Colorado, a state that has made marijuana legal not just for medical needs but for recreation.

The difference in enforcement between the neighboring states is pretty stark when you consider this is an actual tweet from the Denver police.