Denver, CO — A United States military veteran and father is fighting the state of Kansas for custody of his children. In April 2015, Raymond Schwab’s children were confiscated by Child Protective Services, and authorities in the state insist he must discontinue his use of marijuana — which he uses to treat his PTSD — if he and his wife, Amelia, want them back.
Schwab, an honorably discharged veteran of the Gulf War, discovered the benefits of using marijuana to treat PTSD years ago. He lived in Colorado when medical use was legalized, and he found it worked better than other options he had tried.
Veterans Affairs had prescribed Schwab a variety of pharmaceuticals to treat his PTSD, from painkillers and muscle relaxants to anti-anxiety drugs. However, Schwab says, “they were making me crazy, they made me worse.” Schwab says he even developed an addiction to heroin, but that using cannabis helped him overcome it.
In 2013, Schwab moved to Topeka, Kansas, to take a job working as a benefits agent for fellow veterans at Veterans Affairs. “I loved it. I loved my job,” he told the Denver Post, which broke the story. The article’s author told Anti-Media he believes Schwab discontinued his marijuana use while living in Kansas, where all forms of cannabis — even medical — are banned.
In 2015, Schwab and his family decided to move back to Colorado. Raymond wanted to transfer to a VA job in Denver, as well as resume his cannabis therapy for PTSD and chronic pain. Before the family left Kansas, however, Amelia’s mother took their five children to the police station and reported them abandoned — a decision she now says she regrets.
Since April, the Schwab children have been held by Child Protective Services (CPS), and Raymond and Amelia have only been permitted to see them three times. To regain custody, CPS, as well as a Kansas judge, are requiring Schwab to undergo urinalysis to prove he has not used marijuana — or any other drugs — for four months. Raymond, who now lives in Colorado, is unsure he can pass that test. “What if I didn’t make it through four months?” he asked. He fears his condition could worsen without cannabis.
Further, in April of last year, the state began investigating allegations that Raymond and Amelia “emotionally abused” their children. Authorities found the charges to be unsubstantiated three months later, but they still refuse to release the children to their parents. As Raymond wondered, “Why do you still have my children?”
“I don’t think what we’re doing is illegal, immoral or wrong,” Amelia told the Post.
Kansas has made headlines for its restrictive marijuana policies. Last year, a cannabis activist and mother, Shona Banda, had her son taken from her after he spoke up in school about her use of the plant to treat her debilitating Crohn’s Disease. Banda faces decades in prison and is still fighting for custody of her son.
Though marijuana legalization seems an unstoppable trend in the United States, both Banda and Schwab’s cases highlight the rigidity of some states’ efforts keep the plant illegal. Congress has ordered the Department of Justice to stop prosecuting users of legal medical marijuana — and recently made it easier for veterans to access it — yet some states insist on clinging to increasingly archaic prohibition policies. As Schwab pointed out,
“They’re basically using my kids as a pawn to take away freedoms I fought for. It’s a horrible position to put me in.”