Banda defends her medical marijuana use

Shona Banda (KSN File Photo)

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Shona Banda is the Garden City woman who has been fighting marijuana and child endangerment charges for the past few years. She’s a medical marijuana advocate who says using cannabis oil has changed her life.

“I didn’t leave the couch,” she said about life before cannabis oil. “I couldn’t butter toast. I could not be a mom.”

Shona Banda has struggled with her Crohn’s disease diagnosis for the past 15 years. She says cannabis oil has given her a chance to fight.

“I’m feeling all right today. I’m still not up to my normal self.”

Banda says her Crohn’s Disease makes it nearly impossible to digest or swallow food, and the cannabis gives her an appetite and relaxes her gastrointestinal system.

“Within two weeks I’d need to be hospitalized,” if she were to go without it, she said. “If I made it two weeks. Usually it’s three days.”

Her case gained national attention back in 2015 when her son spoke about medical marijuana at school, prompting a police search warrant of her home.

The child spent time in protective custody.

“I knew I was breaking an unjust law,” she said. “As a citizen of this country, you have a duty to disobey an unjust law and make it right.”

Banda is charged with multiple counts including manufacturing a controlled substance, distribution within 1,000 feet of a school, possession of paraphernalia, and endangering a child.

Still, Banda uses cannabis oil to treat herself.

“I would not be here today without it. I need it to survive.”

She’s had to stop using the drug when hospitalized for surgery. She once dropped to 103 pounds, and she was barely able to stand up during her last court appearance in November.

Now, she’s turned her situation into advocacy for others.

“It’s time to take our power back as a people and make them realize and understand that they absolutely work for us,” she said about her fight with the state, “and when we can recognize that a law is unjust, it’s time for them to change it.”

Banda is due back in court next week to determine if she is competent to stand trial.

We reached out to the county attorney, who told us “Whether or not Ms. Banda feels the law is unjust doesn’t change the fact that we believe…[she] should be punished according to the laws of the State of Kansas. The appropriate forum to change the law is the legislature, not a court of law. ”

Medical marijuana is now allowed in some form in more than half the states.

In fact, it’s on the books in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

Here in Kansas, former Kansas Attorney General Bob Stephan took a supportive stance in 2007. He said that medical marijuana should be legalized and that he came to this realization after battling cancer.

In 2016, the Kansas House passed a bill that allows residents to use low THC medical marijuana for medical use, but it didn’t get the votes it needed in the Senate and didn’t become law.