A Kansas military veteran whose five children were seized by child services says the state took them because he uses medical marijuana to treat PTSD – not because of domestic and legal troubles.
Raymond Schwab, a 40-year-old Navy veteran, told reporters in March that workers at the Kansas Department of Families and Children, an agency frequently accused of taking kids for their parents’ medical cannabis use, falsely claimed they acted because of recent scrapes with police.
Agency workers took the children – ages 5, 7, 11, 13, and 16 – in April 2015. Schwab accused the state of “illegally kidnapping” them after his mother-in-law told police they had been abandoned. The agency acted as he was preparing to move to Colorado so he could legally use medical pot, he said.
Kansas’ harsh anti-cannabis laws
Marijuana is legal for any use in Colorado, including medical, while it is outlawed in Kansas. Anti-cannabis laws there are especially harsh, and the Department of Families and Children has a history of removing children whose parents use the drug.
But officials insist that’s not why they took Schwab’s kids. They said they couldn’t comment on specifics, but said he isn’t telling the truth about what happened.
In fact, no specific reason has been offered by any state official. But Schwab says it’s not because of recent legal incidents involving him and his wife.
In the months leading up to the removal, Schwab’s wife, Amelia, was arrested after she assaulted him at a strip club; police responded to a domestic disturbance at their home; and Amelia Schwab was hospitalized for mental health concerns, according to The Associated Press.
“None of those things were in the state’s allegation,” said Schwab, who continues to protest the state’s actions. But cannabis was mentioned, he said, and he was told to abstain from the drug for at least four months before Kansas would return his children.
Schwab has repeatedly protested outside the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, and said he ended a two-week hunger strike in late March.
Federal lawsuit filed against Kansas state
In the meantime, Matthew Pappas, a California medical marijuana lawyer, traveled to Topeka and said he would file a federal lawsuit seeking the children’s return. Pappas joined a small rally in Topeka after arriving, and Schwab said he plans to continue protesting for at least another month.
Pappas said he had seen the transcript of the allegations against the Schwabs. Of the family’s legal scrapes, he said, “If they played a role in what’s going on in court, they would be in the transcript, but they’re not.”
Schwab said he developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving 18 months in the Navy between 1994 and 1996. He has declined to discuss what happened during his service, but said he came back with chronic joint and back problems, got hooked on opiate pain pills, and eventually moved on to heroin.
Marijuana helped him leave that addiction behind, he said. He moved to Kansas from Colorado in 2013 to work for the Veterans Administration. He and his wife have run into trouble several times since.
Last year Amelia Schwab pleaded guilty to domestic battery following a 2014 incident in which she attacked her husband at a Topeka strip club. Raymond Schwab said his marriage was falling apart at the time and he had relapsed into drinking.
A domestic disturbance in January 2015 was followed by Amelia Schwab’s hospitalization. Officials took the children while she was in the hospital, after her mother alleged they had been abandoned. Also in 2015, Raymond Schwab was charged with trespass and battery after allegedly breaking into an apartment above the strip club.
What do you think? Is Schwab telling the truth? Did he deserve to lose his kids? Post a comment below.