POLITICS

Thousands Demand Leniency For Medical Marijuana Advocate At Risk Of Losing Custody Of Son

04/23/2015 05:54 pm ET | Updated Apr 24, 2015

Shona Banda should be able to kiss her child goodnight. Or, at least, that’s what the thousands of people rallying in support of the medical marijuana advocate are arguing.

As of Thursday afternoon, more than 28,000 people had signed a petition asking the Finney County District Attorney and the Kansas Department of Families and Children not to press charges against Banda and to release her son into her care.

“Last night, a little boy went to bed without a kiss from his mother because of antiquated medical marijuana laws in the state of Kansas,” Jessica Boone, who launched the campaign on the site Care2, said in a statement.

Banda’s 11-year-old son was placed into state custody on March 24 after the boy allegedly voiced support for medical marijuana during a classroom discussion and told school officials that the adults in his home were regular drug users. Banda has said she uses concentrated cannabis oil to treat Crohn's Disease.

Several supporters of Banda’s cause rallied at a park near a courthouse on Monday. The same day, a judge decided that the boy would remain in state custody.

Banda told her supporters to never allow law enforcement to attack their constitutional rights, such as "freedom of speech, what you can teach your children, and what you can do with your own body," according to Vice News.

"No one should be afraid to save their own lives and you shouldn't be afraid to teach your children the truth, no matter where you are," she said. "I desperately miss my son every day but you should not be afraid to save your own life."

In addition to being denied custody of her son, criminal charges against Banda were submitted for consideration by the police Monday to the district attorney’s office. Almost $34,000 has been raised for Banda’s legal fees.

“What’s really criminal here are the outmoded laws that punish people like Shona and her son for seeking effective treatments to Crohn’s, cancer, and other illnesses,” Randy Paynter, CEO of Care2, said in a statement. “We are proud to mobilize our community in support of compassion for Shona and the millions of Americans around the country who could benefit from a more rational approach to medical marijuana.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect the petition is directed at the Finney County District Attorney. The story has also been updated to reflect the rally supporting Banda was not in Wichita.

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