Charges filed against medical marijuana advocate in Kansas

AP News
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Posted: Jun 05, 2015 5:50 PM

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A medical marijuana advocate who temporarily lost custody of her 11-year-old son following comments he made during a drug education program at school now faces criminal charges.

The Finney County Attorney's office announced Friday that 37-year-old Shona Banda faces five criminal counts related to the March 24 incident: distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property; unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance, tetrahydrocannabinol; possession of drug paraphernalia; and endangering a child.

The divorced Garden City mother sparked a conversation on social media after going public with her story. Her attorney, Sarah Swain, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Banda is a motivational speaker and author of a book "Live Free or Die: Reclaim your Life ... Reclaim your Country!" that recounts her use of concentrated cannabis oil to treat Crohn's Disease.

In the news release announcing the charges, the county attorney's office noted it is illegal Kansas to use or possess marijuana and its derivatives as well as to manufacture those 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," the agency said.

Police were called to Banda's son's school for a child welfare check following a drug and alcohol presentation. Investigators say 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.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Banda had been arrested or whether she has gotten her son back after authorities took him into protective custody.

If convicted, the maximum sentence that could be imposed on Banda is between 138 months and 204 months in prison, depending on criminal history, according to prosecutors.