Local medicinal marijuana advocate charged on multiple counts
The local medicinal marijuana advocate who made national news earlier this year after her son was taken into protective custody is now facing criminal charges.
Finney County Attorney Susan Richmeier on Friday issued a press release outlining five charges being filed against Shona Banda, 37, Garden City: endangering a child, distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property, unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Three of the charges are felonies. Banda faces a potential sentence of 138 to 204 months.
Also included in the press release was the following statement: The Finney County Attorney’s office is responsible for upholding the law in the State of Kansas and holding individuals responsible for violations of those laws. At this time, it is illegal in the State of Kansas to use or possess schedule I drugs as listed in KSA 65-4105. It is also illegal to manufacture such drugs for personal use or otherwise. The Finney County Attorney’s office will continue to strive to serve the public by enforcing the laws as written within the state.
When asked when an arrest is expected, Richmeier said the case had just been filed and has not yet been processed.
Banda could not be reached for comment.
The drug investigation and child-in-need-of-care case came about as a result of comments Banda’s son made during a drug education program held March 24 at his school, Bernadine Sitts Intermediate Center, that resulted in the Department of Children and Families and Garden City Police Department being contacted.
According to police, the boy said his mother and other adults in his residence were avid drug users and that there was a lot of drug use occurring in his residence, which led police to suspect drugs were present in the home.
Officers and DCF officials went to Banda’s home that same day, where Banda initially denied them consent to search the residence. After securing a search warrant, police found 1.25 pounds of marijuana in plant, oil, joint, gel and capsule form and drug paraphernalia in the home. Officers also found a lab used for manufacturing cannabis oil. All of the items were within reach of the child, police said, prompting law enforcement and DCF officials to decide the boy should be removed from the home.
The boy initially was placed in the custody of his father, who is separated from Banda, and then put into protective custody on April 16. It is unknown at this time whether he remains in protective custody, due to District Magistrate Judge Richard Hodson placing a gag order on any and all proceedings in the child-in-need-of-care (CINC) case.
Banda became an advocate of cannabis and its medicinal properties after treating her own Crohn’s disease with cannabis oil. She also authored a book titled, “Live Free or Die,” and has appeared in YouTube videos and in online articles on www.naturalnews.com, sharing her knowledge of and belief in the medicinal benefits of cannabis oil.
Banda has not been without her supporters.
Following one of the child-in-need-of-care proceedings, supporters of Banda gathered in Stevens Park.
A Gofundme account, a fundraising website, established on behalf of Banda for potential legal fees has raised $43,000.
Additionally, a close family friend of Banda’s launched Care2 petition, an online petition, urging local law enforcement and DCF officials to waive charges against Banda and return her son to her care.
As of Friday, more than 133,000 people from all over the U.S., as well as people from Germany, Ireland, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Mexico, Italy, France and other countries have signed the petition.