If the story of Shona Banda had occurred in Colorado or Washington, there wouldn’t have been such a big controversy. There might have even been a story at all. It all began earlier this year in Kansas when Banda’s 11 year-old son disagreed with anti-cannabis information presented in his school and stood up to make a counterpoint. His actions led to officials discovering that Banda was using medical marijuana, which is illegal in Kansas – but completely legal in Colorado where the family previous lived.
Banda’s son was questioned for over 60 minutes without parental consent. This questioning led to a search warrant, which in turn lead to the discovery of two ounces of marijuana. Authorities then removed Banda’s son from her home and into protective custody. 5 charges have been filed against Banda, including the endangerment of a child, and she’s facing a possible life sentence if convicted.
The story is similar to that of Max Lorincz, who had custody of his 5 year old son taken away because of his status as a medical marijuana patient. Lorincz was discovered to be using cannabis extracts, which don’t qualify under Michigan’s patient protection laws. To have a chance of regaining custody of his son, the court has requested that he not use the medical marijuana for which he has been approved.
As marijuana becomes legalized in more ways across the United States, this is an issue that must be addressed. The Colorado Supreme Court has just ruled employers can justifiably fire someone for using pot while not at work, including prescription use, and even if it doesn’t affect their performance.
This is the standard that is being applied to parents now as well. The instant parents begin using legal marijuana is the instant parents put themselves at risk of being declared unfit.
Marijuana laws are changing. Perspectives are changing. These cases, however, show that there is still a long way to go and families must be aware of this in order to protect their best interests.