#seekingjustice: All Eyes Turn on Garden City, KS as Shona Banda’s Medical Marijuana Prosecution Commences

Garden City, KS (TFC)12278247_10205535167239918_1168566237_n The prosecution of Shona Banda commenced Monday morning as Garden City, KS became the center of the universe for cannabis activists, reformers, politicians, medical professionals and patients fighting to repeal cannabis prohibition.

Garden City is located in southwestern Kansas. Part of the Great Plains. Nestled at U.S. Route 50 and U.S. Route 83, the Finney County seat has a population of approximately 28,000. It is here, that Criminal Defense Attorney Sarah Swain has come to defend Shona Banda. It is here, in Garden City, that the national movement to repeal the prohibition of Cannabis is mobilizing. Supporting Shona Banda and the use of Medical Cannabis. It is this case that is being talked about and watched by attorneys and medical professionals from across the country. It is here that cannabis patients and medical refugees are standing in solidarity with Ms. Banda sending a message that what is happening in Garden City is important. Attorney Swain set the tone for the defense in a recent interview;

Essentially my client is fighting for her life. She is not a “drug” dealer  She is trying to stay alive. She is trying to be around for her children. Instead she has been charged under a statute that makes her appear to be some kind of methamphetamine dealer. If the State of Kansas is successful in putting Shona in prison, it will be a death sentence due to her illness. An illness Cannabis use had in remission

Shona’s case has been polarizing from the very beginning. The foundation for the initial police and Division of Child and Family Services actions was based on comments made by one of Shona’s children while sitting in class listening to a D.A.R.E. presentation by a local police officer. Shona’s son apparently challenged the presentation’s accuracy with first-hand knowledge that Cannabis helped his mother battle her illness. Resulting in the initiation of a “child in need of care” (CINC) case. The State took her child alleging he was in danger and subsequently Finney County filed the criminal charges Shona appears in court on today.

The CINC case has been disposed of and Shona’s child has been returned to her custody coincidentally. Shona is facing multiple criminal charges that include 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 endangering a child.

Shona waived her preliminary hearing today and is scheduled to be arraigned in January.

The national and international interest, in this case, has been immense and grows with each court appearance. The Human Solution International, a California-based Human Rights’ Organization has spent extensive time coordinating information about the case with various organizations and individuals supporting Shona.

As noted by Sharon Ravert, Director of Peachtree NORML:

The Shona Banda Case is important due to overall push for civil rights for medical marijuana patients. As marijuana prohibition comes to an end, we must at the very least, immediately ensure the freedom of sick citizens that choose marijuana as a form of treatment. The world is watching Garden City Kansas as they choose to prosecute this young sick mother. It is a crime against humanity in my opinion, your zip code should not make you a criminal. Peachtree NORML stand in support of all those criminalized by these draconian laws based in hate and ignorance.

Sarah Swain 2

Criminal Defense Attorney Sarah Swain

Criminal prosecutions have their own stigma in our society. When a person is accused of serious felony charges criminal defendants more often than not face those charges mainly by themselves. Family, friends and communities usually move away from criminal defendants not wanting to be stained by association. Not the case here. Everyone I have spoken to personally, or read about on social media, or radio is in complete support of Shona and is appalled at this prosecution. Politicians are even weighing in. U.S. Senate Candidate Ted Metz (L),

This case bears great significance in determining who owns your body and whether a crime can exist without a victim. A more important aspect in this case will be the examination of the Government’s rationale for the prohibition of the most significantly beneficial plant on earth. Finally, the most important part of this case is the opportunity to preach the tradition of Jury Nullification. “If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.” Thom. Jefferson

Adding to this is the enormous cost this case will have on the local government as well as the defense. Prosecuting Shona certainly will have a large price tag and one wonders if the people of Finney County believe their tax dollars are best spent trying to put a mother in prison who has only been medicating herself to survive. There is certainly nothing about this case that offers up any evidence
that Shona is a danger to society in any way and with the dismissal of the CINC case and the return of her child to her custody it is clear she is not a danger to her own children. Jennifer Ani, the California Attorney who flew to Kansas to help with her CINC case talks about this issue

Legislators have failed to keep up with the science and the fact that Cannabis is medicine and has valid medicinal qualities.

Shona will next appear in Finney County Court in January. In the meantime, she will be raising money for her defense and fighting to take care of her illness and her family. We wish her well.