Life is viewed by many in many ways: as a gift, as a curse, or even as a mission. But whatever views of life one might have, in it we all have one thing in common that we deal with everyday, and that is our health. And whatever the case may be regarding one’s health, we can all agree that “good” health is important simply because without it, we may as well throw in the towel and forget about those life views altogether.
Having been raised in the mid-west, Kansas, Shona Banda’s upbringing was in a very typical, American conservative environment where cannabis is known as a highly dangerous illegal drug, and is socially and morally frowned upon. This, later in life, ultimately left Shona feeling like she was a “druggie” when she decided to treat her illness with cannabis.
One could speculate that cannabis prohibition created this lacklustre image of its users, making for an uneasy personal outlook on the reflection of one’s self when needing to use it medically. Cannabis black-market prices also make it harder to access cannabis with respect and dignity, especially at $20–25/g U.S. in Kansas. And evidently, higher market prices also mean taking higher risks and breaking several laws in the process.
As Shona began to use a heat-extracted cannabis oil regime as often as she could, she began to feel her optimal self again. Realizing the benefits of cannabis extracts, she walked away from the anti-cannabis propaganda, including the dark label she had put upon herself.
In this exclusive interview with Shona Banda, I will unveil her personal life views, and how she persevered against her own inhibitions and boundaries so that she could live free on her own terms in order to stay alive. This is her story of how she saved her life with the power of determination.
JR ~ What values were you taught growing up that you carry today?
SB ~ I was raised to have a strong work ethic, high moral values, and to be persistent in order to persevere. I was raised with the good ol’ American Dream. I was raised to have pride in my country. I was also raised to think for myself … to question all things until they make sense.
JR ~ Would you consider yourself to have been a rebellious teen? And, if you rebelled, what drove you to?
SB ~ I think being rebellious is a normal, natural part of adolescence. I was rebellious, I ditched classes in high school, I was a smartass or a class clown wanting to see others laugh and smile around me. I never had the gall to sneak out of my house. I was too afraid of the repercussions. I fought with my parents in my teenage years because I have always had a strong opinion.
JR ~ What did you aspire to be when you were younger?
SB ~ I had always wanted to help people. I started college classes to become a paramedic. I became pregnant and had schooling to become a Nurses’ Aid. The pain of seeing our elderly suffer in those homes … the neglect, the lack of staff … it was killing me inside to watch. I had to take myself from the situation.
JR ~ What would you say are your best attributes (don’t be modest)?
SB ~ I believe that my sole purpose on this earth is to be able to explain the things I learn in a way that others can easier comprehend. I am honest to a fault, I can voice my opinion with conviction. I try to be open minded. I will admit that I do not know everything. I will own up to my own mistakes.
JR ~ What inspires you? It can be anything.
SB ~ Life inspires me. The heave of my child’s chest as he breathes in and out as he sleeps. The sound of my children screaming and giggling with joy. The smile on their faces when watching a funny movie. The wind in the trees. The sun kissing my face from the sky. The smell of flowers in the spring, or fresh cut grass in the summer … the bitter cold of winter as it slaps your face and leaves a bite. Life inspires me.
JR ~ What are some of your adult accomplishments?
SB ~ My children. Each one is so precious. Saving my own life. Being able to share that with so many around the world.
JR ~ How many children do you have?
SB ~ I have two [living sons]. I lost my daughter right before I got pregnant with my youngest son and the only difference was that I chose not to use cannabis during my pregnancy with her. I was still at a point where I still felt I was a “stoner” and I didn’t want to be a stoner when I was pregnant. So when I got pregnant again with my youngest son, I said screw that! I am not going to lose this one and I am not going to be puke and be sick again. I am going to use this, cannabis, as medicine and am going to live on.
JR ~ When did you first realize you might have a medical condition?
SB ~ I had started to have issues with my stomach when I was in high school as a teen. Like many other people with an invisible illness, I was told it was in my head. I was told I was a hypochondriac. I was told for many years that, and felt as if I was crazy. I actually questioned my own sanity at times.
JR ~ What have your experiences been like using cannabis?
SB ~ In high school I did try it once. I didn’t like how it made me feel and never felt the need to keep trying. When I was 24, sick, puking, and sleeping next to the toilet, my ex was holding my hair back, begging me to try cannabis. He rolled me a joint, I took one drag and fell on the floor and cried. It was like finding out Santa wasn’t real as an adult. My whole world changed as this one drag helped far more tremendous than anything any physician ever had to offer.
JR ~ As a cannabis patient, have you had any traumatic experiences in your life that affect you today?
SB ~ Experiencing the barbaric nature of the medical system. Losing my daughter. Going through abuse, infidelity, homelessness, and breaking free. Only to have the State abuse and control me and my family on a whole new level. I desperately want to break this cycle of abuse. I’m ready to live my life, free, unencumbered, and able to encourage and inspire others to do the same.
JR ~ What have some of the roadblocks in your life been, and how have you persevered?
SB ~ With so many I have come across, I do feel like with every turn there have been many. I just keep going. No matter how slow or fast things seem to go … there is a difference in giving up and surrendering in your soul. I surrendered. I prayed, and then I found my cure. The journey has never let up, my soul seems to have went right up to God himself before I came to this planet. I said, give me the best of the best and the worst of the worst, I want to experience it all.
JR ~ Walk me through your arrest and how that happened.
SB ~ It took them a month to bring forth charges against me. And it took them this long to build a case against me so that they could prosecute me to the fullest extent of the law with as many charges as they could. They charged me with the most heinous crimes of all crimes. They charged me to the max on every single charge they gave me in this drug war.
JR ~ What were you charged with when you were arrested?
SB ~ I had five charges laid on me. One was child endangerment, [the others were] too close to a school, intent to sell, and [the police] said I was distributing based on the amount that I had. Then [they] also charged me for having too much of an amount, which didn’t make sense either, but they had to eventually drop that because they had to re-weigh it and it came back at a lesser weight. Then I was also charged for manufacturing which was also false because I only used a pure heat extraction that never uses any chemicals. If you [use] Google, search my extraction method so you can see how I actually did it.
The DA made me feel as if I was made out to be this drug-dealing woman, which in fact I was not. All of their claims were false. Never did I endanger my children, nor any other children near me. Never did I sell anything to anyone at anytime. And never did I intend to sell anything I had, because I needed it for my health. So everything they were claiming were lies and they had no proof that any of these claims were true. Every single charge that I had been given has a moral backing to those laws, which is how they were able to charge me in the first place.
JR ~ How did you get caught?
SB ~ Well, I had been an activist before my son was born. And I was using cannabis while I was pregnant and I was using it while he was growing up. So I had been using cannabis openly as medicine for many years. So what happened was that my son’s school was having a drug education class and when they brought up that they were going to teach the class about marijuana, my son decided to corrected the teacher saying, “Well, my mom calls it cannabis!” So the school made some calls.
The thing is, is that people are taking risks everyday. I would say at least half the population uses cannabis. At least 90% of 80% that use cannabis in Kansas will lie about it. But I chose to be vocal about it, and be public. Over the years I have been asked to join organizations, but have politely declined to avoid drama and the politics.
JR ~ What were you doing on the day of your arrest? They notify you when they are coming to arrest you, is this correct?
SB ~ I was finishing up with a dental appointment from Wichita to Garden City, and I was turning myself in with my bondsman and some activists in the car. I was reading the Declaration of Independence on my way there. When I got there, I was arrested and I had to be strip-searched. I had to be booked, but they didn’t like it. They didn’t like booking me because I read everything that they put in front of me to sign. So when I got to the medical release form I asked them what it was, and they told me it was that the jail wasn’t responsible for my health and weren’t liable if anything happened to me. So I turned around and gave it back to him. I said I was perfectly fine with my health before I got here and that if something happened to me and I got sick, that I’m not paying for it.
JR ~ What did they say at that point?
SB ~ He had to go talk to his supervisor because they didn’t know what to do with me. And they need to be held accountable. I filed a federal lawsuit against them and am now waiting to hear if actual federal agents will serve these people.
JR ~ How long were you in jail?
SB ~ I bailed right out, immediately. They booked me, strip-searched me, processed me and then I was able to go.
JR ~ Did you go to court?
SB ~ I had this one incident turn into a CINC (Child In Need of Care) case, a criminal case, a divorce case and my civil suit. So it’s turned into four cases. I don’t believe they believed me when I told them I was internationally known. Upon our first encounter, I made it very well known that I was a public figure.
JR ~ Were your charges dropped?
SB ~ I had the CINC case [dropped]. During the case, they decided that the child was not in need of care, was not in danger, that [my] husband was trying to use it for custody issues, and that it needed to be handled in divorce court. I am currently going through a divorce from my husband.
JR ~ How does cannabis affect your life today?
SB ~ It affects all of our lives. It is an essential vitamin. It is an essential source of food for our systems. Cannabis affects the way I eat. If I can eat or not. It affects the amount of cramping I have in my stomach, it affects the stress in my life in such a way that I am able to better handle myself in very abnormal situations. Cannabis allows me to function, as a human being, in my own body. The oil is a fuel for my body’s endocannabinoid system, it allows the neurons in my brain to fire and connect; and that allows my body to talk to itself on a cellular level and heal on its own.
JR ~ If you could share any words of wisdom, what would they be and why?
SB ~ *Never wait for words on paper to change, that were written by the ignorance of man.
*The truth is out there, take the time to seek it; love yourself enough to live free.
*Know that science is abundant and truth can no longer be hidden.
*It can be done.
*Knowledge is power, once you take your life into your own hands, you have a duty to be responsible with your decisions. To be prepared to handle and defend yourself if needed.
*Anyone can, and with so much information at our fingertips …
*Ignorance is really a choice.
*Arrogance in that ignorance can be seen a mile away.
*We are winning!
Yes, we are winning and I couldn’t agree more. By fighting for our freedom and the freedoms of future generations, freedom’s fate is not a dictated idea. Think bigger. Think without boundaries. Think without obstacles. REAL FREEDOM! Adopt it for yourself. Be brave. Be true to yourself and do what’s right for your health. Because at the end of the day, freedom is our state of mind, and our once in a lifetime choice.
Editor’s note: This interview has been copy-edited for readability. American spelling and personal writing style have been maintained.