Why Did Kansas Take Away This Disabled Veteran’s Kids?

image via the Denver Post
image by Helen H. Richardson via the Denver Post

Disabled veteran Raymond Schwab served his country honorably in the Navy during the first Gulf War. His service left him suffering from chronic pain and post-traumatic stress syndrome. As thanks for his service, the State of Kansas took his children away from him. Schwab said:

“They’re basically using my kids as a pawn to take away freedoms I fought for.”

What horrible crime did the disabled Navy veteran commit? None, according to the State of Colorado. Schwab uses medical marijuana to treat his PTSD and pain from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Tired of addictive and expensive prescription medication, he moved from Kansas to Colorado where medical and recreational marijuana use is legal. Schwab’s wife Amelia said:

“I don’t think what we’re doing is illegal, immoral or wrong.”

The State of Kansas disagreed. The state’s Division of Child Services took custody of five of the couple’s six children. The sixth is over 18. They are refusing to return the children unless Schwab stops using medical marijuana. The Republican legislature of Kansas has refused to consider legalizing medical marijuana.

The manner in which Kansas seized the children is an example of the illogical and heartless nature of the “war on drugs.” Schwab was working for the VA in Kansas, but feared he was becoming addicted to the opiod painkillers the Kansas VA was prescribing for disabilities. He transferred to VA office in Denver, Colorado, where he would be able to receive a legal prescription for medical marijuana. Congress has recently passed legislation authorizing the VA to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans.

As Raymond and Amelia were packing their home to move, Amelia’s mother, fearful of the reason for the couple’s move, went to the police and reported that the couple were abandoning their children. Amelia’s mother has since apologized and admitted her mistake, but the damage was done. Because medical marijuana is illegal in Kansas, a judge ruled Raymond’s use was endangering the children, and that Raymond would have to pass four months of drug testing before the case would be reconsidered.

Many veterans have started to use medical marijuana as a safe and non-addictive treatment for PTSDStudies have shown that medical marijuana can can reduce the effects of, and even cure, PTSD. It has also been shown to treat pain, without any of the dangers of prescription pain medication. Schwab doesn’t understand why he should be forced to take dangerous and addictive prescription pain killers like Oxycotin, and anti-anxiety medications like xanax, the only treatments available in Kansas:

“…they were making me crazy, they made me worse.”

Featured image by torbakhopper via Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license.

Frank Casale is writer, academic, and investigator of all things odd.