A Kansas dad who has been on hunger strike for 17 days to protest the placing of his kids in foster care could end his fast Wednesday if a federal lawsuit is filed on his behalf.
Raymond Schwab, a Gulf War veteran who claims the state took his children because he uses medical marijuana to treat his constant pain and PTSD, told NBC affiliate KSN "the hunger strike will be officially over" if "I agree with what’s happening."
In anticipation of the legal move, Schwab treated himself to a protein shake and coconut water, the station reported.
Schwab and his wife, Amelia, lost custody of five of their six children last April as they were preparing to move from Kansas to Colorado, where medical marijuana is legal.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families removed the kids from their home when it began investigating allegations the children were being emotionally abused, according to reports.
Three months later, the agency concluded the claims were unsubstantiated, the reports stated. But they didn't return the kids.
That's when Schwab, 40, stopped eating, grabbed some sleeping bags, and began camping out on the Statehouse steps in Topeka to get his kids back.
Meanwhile, medical marijuana advocates in support of Schwab offered to sue the state on his behalf.
DCF spokeswoman Theresa Freed declined to comment specifically about the Schwab case but said marijuana use is generally not reason enough for the state to keep children in foster care.
Freed told KSN, an "unsubstantiated" finding doesn't necessarily mean abuse wasn't found.
"It’s very confusing and we understand that," Freed said. "We hear that from the courts, we hear that from a number of individuals within the community and we want to help clarify the process."
The Schwabs say they've only seen their children three times since last April.
"Until people stand up and say this needs reform, this needs stopped, we may not get our kids back," Schwab told the station earlier this year. "They’re threatening to terminate our rights."