Navy vet in custody battle after kids taken due to PTSD medication

A Gulf War veteran who moved with his wife to Colorado, so he could use medical marijuana to treat his PTSD – is still fighting to get his children back.

40-year-old Raymond Schwab served in the Navy for two years, was honorably discharged and qualified for a 50 percent disability rating. He says the VA tried treating his PTSD with all kinds of pain meds, muscle relaxants, and anti-anxiety drugs, but they only made things worse.

He started getting addicted to heroin, but says he was able to overcome that with “cannabis therapy.” After a 2011 stint in rehab, he got sober. Schwab tells the Denver Post the turning point in his family life began with a VA job offer in 2013, when he went to Topeka to work as a benefits agent for fellow veterans. Two years later, however, he decided to transfer to Denver — where medical cannabis is legal.

While he and his wife traveled to Colorado to set up their cannabis business, the five youngest of their six children were taken from them. One of the relatives caring for the kids “took them to the police station, saying their parents had abandoned them to go work on a pot farm in Colorado.”

The Schwabs say they’ve only seen their kids three times since April of last year.

The state had been conducting an investigation into other allegations that Raymond and Amelia emotionally abused all children– ages 5 to 16. A DCF report in July found those claims to be “unsubstantiated.” Additionally, the relative who took the kids initially to the police now says she regrets what she did.

Schwab says once he regains custody of his children he plans to sue the state of Kansas for violation of his constitutional rights. “They’re holding my kids hostage and threatening to terminate my rights if I don’t seek cannabis-abuse therapy in a state that’s legal… I’ll take this to the supreme court if I have to,” he said.

The differences in state marijuana laws can make a legal user in one state an “unfit parent” across the border. In a guide on parental drug use by the US Department of Health and Human Services — it states that “exposing children to the manufacture, possession, or distribution of illegal drugs is considered child endangerment in 11 States [including Kansas].”

Dr Sue Sisley, a psychiatrist who studies the effects of cannabis in treating PTSD, says that for vets like Schwab, “they need their medicine in order to be a good parent.”

Schwab testified before Kansas state lawmakers last month pleading with them to do more. A state senate committee was considering a bill that would lower criminal penalties for marijuana possession and allow hemp oil to be used medicinally. Schwab says that’s not going far enough.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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