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Kansas: Mother, Marijuana Advocate Shona Banda Faces Preliminary Hearing Nov. 16

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Shona Banda, a Kansas mother who faces three felony charges and two misdemeanors for medical marijuana, will face a preliminary hearing on November 16. Banda has not entered a plea, contrary to incorrect press reports; Finney County District Attorney Susan Richmeier incorrectly stated in a Monday email that Banda had done so.

Law enforcement authorities and the Kansas Department of Children and Families started "investigating" Banda after her 11-year-old son said during an anti-drug program at his school that his mom smokes "a lot" of pot, reports Gabriella Dunn of The Wichita Eagle. The 11-year-old could name various strains of cannabis, according to Banda's arrest affidavit.

In an interview last month, Banda told of how cannabis oil has helped her cope with her Crohn's disease, when other medical remedies did not. She wrote a book, Live Free Or Die: Reclaim Your Life ... Reclaim Your Country, about her marijuana use to treat her disease.

"When I'm dying, I'm going to do whatever it takes to save my life," she said during the interview last month. "It's instinct -- it's human instinct at its very core. You should not have to choose your life over a law."

Photo of Shona Banda: SupportShona.com

Kansas: Attorney General Asks State Supreme Court To Block Wichita Marijuana Decrim

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Perfectly embodying the definition of a sore loser, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking the state Supreme Court to strike down Tuesday's ballot initiative which Wichita voters passed to reduce penalties for marijuana possession.

"There are no facts in dispute -- only the legal question of whether the City of Wichita acted outside its authority by purporting to adopt this ordinance in conflict with state law," Schmidt claimed in a Thursday news release accompanying his filing, reports Dion Lefler at The Wichita Eagle.

"A quick, authoritative and final resolution in the Supreme Court will provide the clarity to guide everyone involved," Schmidt said.

A lawyer for the cannabis activists who forced Tuesday's successful decrim vote said it's kind of funny that Schmidt moved on the case only after his side lost.

"I guess if the wrong people win an election in Wichita, Kansas, the attorney general is going to want a do-over," said Scott Poor, the lawyer representing the Wichita Marijuana Reform Initiative group.

The decrim initiative was resoundingly approved by voters, 54 percent to 46 percent. It seeks to reduce the penalty for first-time marijuana possession for adults over 21 to a $50 fine. Violations would be considered infractions, meaning they wouldn't have to be disclosed on most job or scholarship applications.

Kansas: Marijuana Decriminalization Petition Falls Short In Wichita

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Supporters of a petition to decriminalize marijuana in Wichita, Kansas, have come up just short of the number of signatures they needed to force the city to put the issue to a vote.

Organizers got word late Thursday that the Sedgwick County Election Board has ruled they were just 41 signatures short of the 2,928 needed to qualify, reports KAKE.com.

Around 3,500 signatures were disqualified by the office, although reasons weren't immediately given. One possibility is that the election office wouldn't accept signatures from people who were newly registered by the petition circulators, or that those registrations were delayed at the office by proof-of-citizenship requirements, according to petition drive leader Esau Freeman, reports Dion Lefler at The Wichita Eagle.

"This is exactly what I expected from the election office," Freeman said, adding that he was "terribly disappointed" but isn't giving up.

The signature count was supposed to have been completed a year ago, but was delayed by the need to recheck rejected signatures and to conduct Tuesday's primary election.

Petition supporters said they'll be at Tuesday's city council meeting to encourage the council to put the measure on the ballot. The drive had been organized towards getting the decrim question on the November 4 general election ballot.

Kansas: Wichita Marijuana Advocates Turn In Petitions To Reduce Penalties

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana advocates in Wichita, Kansas on Thursday turned in petitions with nearly twice as many signatures as they need to put decriminalization on the November ballot.

City officials in Wichita said they may have questions and concerns about the wording of the measure, but they have no immediate plans to go to court to try to block the initiative, reports Dion Lefler at The Wichita Eagle.

Organizers Esau Freeman and Janice Bradley went to Wichita City Hall at 4:20 p.m. on Thursday and presented City Clerk Karen Sublette with a thick sheaf of papers. According to the advocates, those papers contain the names and signatures of more than 5,800 people in favor of decriminalizing possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.

They need 2,928 valid signatures of registered Wichita voters to put the issue on the ballot.

"We didn't verify every single one, but we're pretty confident with what we have," said Bradley, who added that an intern with the Peace and Justice Social Center had checked a large sample of the signatures.

The petition has garnered support from at least two state legislators and the Community Voice, a newspaper focused on Wichita's black community.

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