Leland Rucker, senior editor at Sensi Magazine revisits the Shona Banda case, which is finally coming to an end. The Kansas woman, who faced 30 years in prison, finalized a plea agreement last week.
Rucker says that Banda has suffered for many years with Crohn’s disease, and had 15 surgeries and lots of pharmaceutical drugs, none of which worked. She found that cannabis oil in a vaporizer helped her condition. At school, her son, during a medical discussion, told his classmates that his mother used cannabis oil to treat the Crohn’s.
The Garden City Police Department executed a search warrant at Banda’s residence on March 24, 2015, and discovered vaporizers belonging to Banda that were used for the purpose of extracting oil from marijuana and contained tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), legal in Colorado but not in Kansas.
Authorities were called, arrested her and charged her with child endangerment since cannabis oil is illegal in Kansas. As part of the deal, she pleaded not guilty to the charges of child endangerment, distribution or possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of school property, unlawful manufacture of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia at the home she shared with her then 11-year-old son.
As part of the plea agreement, Banda agreed to plead no contest to the third count of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture, a level-five drug felony, according to Deputy Finney County Attorney William Votypka. In exchange for her plea, the State of Kansas has agreed to dismiss the remaining charges. The court approved the plea agreement.
Banda, who I spoke with last year when she tried to move to Colorado, said she has moved to Spokane, Wash., where medical and recreational marijuana are legal. She asked for the plea agreement, and though it upended her and her son’s lives leaving their hometown and state. Banda felt she would win the case through trial but didn’t want to go through years of appellate and Supreme Court cases.
At her sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 13 in Wichita, it will be recommended that Banda be given probation while remaining under the penal authority of the Kansas Department of Corrections, even while living in Washington state.
Votypka said the plea agreement was reached after the prosecution gave factual basis supporting the charge of possession of drug paraphernalia with intent to manufacture. Of course she was manufacturing it for herself. Banda’s trial was continued twice as a result of health complications stemming from her battle with Crohn’s disease.
Banda became an advocate for the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes after using it to treat her disease. Now that she is in Washington, Banda said she is going to be testing new strains to help local patients.