Even though the legalization of medicinal marijuana is sweeping the country, parents in some states are losing custody of their children for using the drug.
Some parents are even facing felony charges and possible prison sentences for using marijuana in the wrong state, The Washington Post reported.
One of them, Amber Thurmond, saw her 9-year-old daughter seized in Kansas – where medicinal marijuana is illegal – even though Thurmond lives in Arizona, where it is legal. Thurmond’s daughter was taken by CPS after she sent the girl to live with her brother, a police officer, in Kansas. She uses medicinal marijuana to control seizures and wanted her daughter to live in Kansas while she became more financially stable.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in 23 states.
Thurmond is facing charges of emotional, physical and mental neglect in Kansas. To make matters worse, a court in Kansas has told Thurmond that the only way she can regain custody is to move to Kansas, the newspaper said.
County Attorney Charlene Brubaker, who is representing CPS in the case, denied marijuana was the issue, although Thurmond’s attorney said it in fact is. Thurmond had signed a temporary shared custody agreement with her brother in case her daughter needed medical treatment while living in Kansas, according to the website KansasExposed.org. He turned his sister in to CPS, which then took the girl away from him because he was deemed unfit to be a guardian. The child is now in a foster home.
“These mothers are being forced to choose between their health and their ability to be a parent,” Thurmond’s attorney, Sarah Swain, told The Post. “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.”
But We Can ‘Drink Ourselves To Death.’
Thurmond believes her daughter was taken in an attempt to punish her for using medicinal marijuana and advocating its legalization. Before she lived in Arizona, Thurmond ran a marijuana dispensary in Castle Rock, Colorado, that was featured on the National Geographic TV show American Weed.
“I want to tell everyone I see, ‘You have children,” Thurmond told The Post. “Well, you better reconsider your usage. And yet, we can go home and drink ourselves to death and never have children removed from our homes.”
Another mom, Shona Banda, lost custody of her son and is facing seven felony charges and a possible 30-year prison term because her son mentioned her use of medicinal marijuana in a “drug education class” at school. She contends that medicinal marijuana is the only effective treatment for Crohn’s Disease, a debilitating intestinal condition. Without marijuana, she says, she is too sick to care for her son. She previously had 17 surgeries and tried other drugs. All failed.
Banda has only seen the 11-year-old boy once since March 24, when CPS took him away. School officials called both police and CPS when they heard of the medicinal marijuana use.
Banda uses an oil made from marijuana to treat the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease, which, untreated, can lead to death.
“I spent years raising my children from a couch, not being able to move much,” Banda said of life before marijuana. “I wasn’t able to be a proper mother when I was sick. And now I’m a fantastic mother.”
She added, “I’m very afraid. I cannot believe that I could be facing 30 years in prison for trying to save my life.”
She told The Post that some of the symptoms of Crohn’s Disease have returned since police seized her marijuana. Banda also thinks that she might die without it.
Banda’s son is now in the custody of his father, Banda’s ex-husband.
The Post reported that authorities in in Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania have removed children because parents used marijuana that would be legal in other states.
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