The XX Factor

Medical Marijuana Activist Threatened With Losing Custody of Her Son

Kansas: Home to hay bales and hysteria over marijuana. 

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

In many states, marijuana is being legalized or gradually decriminalized in response to the growing body of evidence showing that the drug is relatively harmless compared to popular drugs like alcohol. But in Kansas, a medical marijuana activist is facing the possibility of losing custody of her son just because he admitted in school that his mother is a pot user.

Shona Banda doesn’t hide her enthusiasm for the drug. She’s an activist for medical marijuana, using her experience using cannabis oil to treat her Crohn’s disease as an inspirational story. “Banda’s legal problems began March 24 when police were called to her son’s school for a child welfare check following a drug and alcohol presentation,” CBS News reports. “Investigators allege the boy told school officials that his mother and other adults in his home were avid drug users and that there was a lot of drug use occurring at the home.”

While that sounds dire, when officials raided her home, what they found was equipment to turn marijuana into cannabis oil, as well as some marijuana. Authorities emphasized that it was within reach of a child, but it is worth noting that her child is 11 years old, not exactly a toddler who stuffs random things into his mouth. 

Banda’s legal defense page explains her side of the story: Her son was annoyed by the anti-drug presentation at the school, which isn’t hard to believe for anyone who had to sit through the histrionics of D.A.R.E. or any similar programs. When he spoke up and said his mom used cannabis and it’s fine, the school officials flipped and called the police. 

Banda’s son is currently being held by child welfare while it’s determined if charges will be filed or her custody challenged. “The most important thing here is the child’s well-being,” Wichita Police Capt. Randy Ralston told the press. “That is why it is a priority for us, just because of the danger to the child.”

It’s possible that Ralston believes what he’s saying—but it requires thinking it’s somehow better to subject a child to hours of intensive questioning, raid his home, and take him from his parents than to let him see people use marijuana, a drug that half of Americans admit using to little ill effect. Sorry, but being man-handled by the state is a lot more traumatic for a kid than seeing Mom puff up periodically.