By Brigid Schulte June 8 Follow @BrigidSchulte


With a wave of legalization measures in recent years, marijuana in some form is now legal in 38 states. But in the 12 where it is not — a swath of the west and Midwest, including Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, and in the rust belt states of Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania — parents whose use of the drug would be legal elsewhere are losing their children and often seen as irresponsible parenting pariahs.

In March, Child Protective Service workers took Shona Banda’s 11-year-old son from her home in Garden City, Kansas, saying her use of marijuana to control debilitating Crohn’s Disease put the child in danger.

Last Friday, the state of Kansas charged Banda with five felony counts of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, manufacturing Tetrahydrocannabinol, an oil extracted from marijuana, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of child endangerment.

Banda, who will turn herself in to authorities June 15, according to her attorney, could face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

On the day she was charged, June 5, the Louisiana state legislature sent a bill to legalize medical marijuana to Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, who’d indicated he’d sign it, and the Detroit Free Press reported that establishment Republicans are backing a recreational marijuana bill for 2016. It was also the day Amber Thurmond, of Arizona, appeared in family court in Hays, Kansas and was told by a judge that if she ever wanted to be reunited with her nine-year-old daughter, Thurmond would have to move to Kansas.

Thurmond lives in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal, uses medical marijuana to control seizures and works at a medical marijuana dispensary. She’s facing charges of physical, mental and emotional neglect in Kansas, where she sent her daughter to live with her brother, a police officer, for a semester, she said, while she got on her feet financially. Eighteen months later, her daughter has been put in the state foster care system and placed with her brother.

“These mothers are being forced to choose between their health and their ability to be a parent,” said Sarah Swain, a Kansas attorney who is representing both Banda and Thurmond. “And there really is no choice to be made. We can’t be mothers if we’re so sick that we’re bedridden, or if we aren’t alive.”

[Related: Even where it’s legal for parents to smoke pot: What about the kids?]

Thurmond was featured on the National Geographic TV series, “American Weed,” which followed the story of the town of Castle Rock, Colorado voting to close down her medical marijuana dispensary, Plants4Life.

“I want to tell everyone I see, ‘you have children? Well, you better reconsider your usage,’” Thurmond said. “And yet, we can go home and drink ourselves to death and never have children removed from our homes.”

Charlene Brubaker, the county attorney involved in Thurmond’s case, said the judge found that her daughter had special needs that could only be met with Thurmond’s frequent presence with the child in Kansas. “The court did not make its decision based on medical marijuana. It’s just their spin, not the truth,” Brubaker said, though she said she could not say more for confidentiality reasons.

Chuck Noerenberg, president of the National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, a group that works with law enforcement and social services, say they’re intensely watching how legalizing marijuana is affecting caregivers’ ability to provide proper care to children.

“Whether it’s a legal or illegal substance, if it has an impact on caregivers’ ability to take care of children, that’s a concern of ours,” he said.

Banda, who has become an outspoken advocate for medical marijuana, had 17 surgeries, tried a number of medications and was prescribed the powerful narcotic, fentanyl, to “ease her passing,” she said, because her doctors thought she was going to die. Then she tried marijuana, and began to heal, a journey she chronicles in her book, Live Free or Die, and on her Facebook page.

[Related: A D.C. doctor makes medical marijuana a specialty]

“I spent years raising my children from a couch, not being able to move much,” Banda said, who also has an 18-year-old son. “I wasn’t able to be a proper mother when I was sick. And now I’m a fantastic mother.”

Twice Banda tried to move to Colorado, where marijuana is legal, she said, but was forced to move back to Kansas near family for financial reasons. Banda is separated from her husband, who now has custody of their 11-year-old son.

The child was in a drug education class at school March 24, and spoke up about his mother’s medical marijuana use. School officials called the police and Child Protective Services. A search of the house found marijuana and drug paraphernalia on the kitchen counters.

Banda has seen the child just once since March 24, she said. Nor has she used cannabis, advocates’ preferred term for marijuana. She’s begun losing weight and an infection that rotted the roof of her mouth has returned. “I’m very afraid,” she said. “I cannot believe that I could be facing 30 years in prison for trying to save my life.”

Keith Stroup, founder and legal counsel for NORML, the advocacy group pushing for marijuana legalization, said he gets calls from parents every week who are embroiled in custody battles because of their marijuana use.

“There are far too many people who presume that if you smoke marijuana, you’re not a qualified parent,” Stroup said. “That’s the result of 80 years of prohibition, and the natural tendency to presume there’s something terribly wrong with it. Only 14 percent of the country are regular marijuana smokers. Eight-six percent are not. A lot of people still presume that if you have children, you should not smoke. Even though they’re quite comfortable with you drinking alcohol around children.”










Please Make Note

Please make note that I, Jessica Lynn Hepner the creator of What Every Parent Should Know, is not giving legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am giving you knowledge via first hand experiences.

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Save A Life by Angie Kassabie

Save A Life by Angie Kassabie
I URGE ALL MY FRIENDS TO READ & SHARE THIS; YOU COULD SAVE A LOVED ONES LIFE BY KNOWING THIS SIMPLE INFORMATION!!! Stroke has a new indicator! They say if you forward this to ten people, you stand a chance of saving one life. Will you send this along? Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue: During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. >>RECOGNIZING A STROKE<< Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S *Ask the individual to SMILE. T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. Chicken Soup) R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved. I have done my part. Will you?

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