Hester Burkhalter, 69-year-old grandmother who was arrested at Disney for having CBD oil in her purse is filing a lawsuit against the theme park and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Burkhalter, of North Carolina, was arrested April 15, 2019 for having CBD oil labeled “Select CBD” in her purse. The grandmother suffers from arthritis pain and her doctor recommended the oil for pain relief. She had a note in her purse from a medical professional at the time of her arrest. Burkhalter was shocked, “I’ve never had one speeding ticket in my life.”
CBD grandma Burkhalter is represented by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who was the attorney for Trayvon Martin’s family. Michele Raynor is co-counsel. The lawsuit alleges the grandmother endured “illegal detention, false arrest and a violation of her civil rights”.
The Disney CBD oil arrest made national news, and left the grandmother, who had been planning the theme park trip for two years, feeling like a criminal. The grandmother was arrested at the Magic Kingdom by an Orange County Deputy who found CBD oil in her purse at a checkpoint. She then spent 12 hours behind bars before being released on a $2,000 bond. Not so magical.
The legality of CBD is confusing to say the least. The 2018 Farm Bill took hemp and CBD off the controlled-substances list, theoretically making them legal, and the FDA issued guidance around the same time, calling hemp and hemp oil (otherwise known as CBD) “safe” for consumption.
But states have struggled to keep up. While CBD shops populate practically every corner throughout the state, law enforcement still seems befuddled on how to handle CBD. Why? Both marijuana and hemp are different strains of the same cannabis plant. (Sort of like identical twins in a soap opera where one is good, and the other is pure evil, but they look exactly the same and even their own mother can’t tell them apart.) Which is why hemp and marijuana smell the same, look the same, and drug-sniffing dogs can’t tell the difference. That said, the difference between the two is easily detectible in a lab. Marijuana contains TNC, the substance responsible for marijuana’s high. Hemp (and its derivative, CBD oil) contain less than 0.3 % THC by definition.
All charges were dropped in the Disney CBD oil arrest of Grandma Burkhalter, but the Orange County Sheriff’s seemed to double down in a statement provided to the news media, “This was a lawful arrest, as possession of CBD oil is currently a felony under Florida State Statute and Deputies are responsible for enforcing Florida law and Orange County ordinances. Although CBD oil is illegal without a prescription, our top drug enforcement priority and focus at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is to get deadly drugs, like heroin and fentanyl, off the streets of our community.”
Meanwhile, back at the Florida Legislature, the Florida State Senate was busy unanimously passing SB 1020, a bill that legalizes the growing, sale, and creation of hemp plants, products and extracts, stating, “Hemp-derived cannabinoids, including, but not limited to, cannabidiol, are not controlled substances or adulterants.”
The bill, which also passed in the Florida House and is awaiting the governor’s signature, states “Hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof, and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers thereof, whether growing or not, that has a total delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis. The law, which expected to be signed by the governor, will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is calling hemp “a miracle crop” for the state, hoping it will bring billions in revenue. Hemp crops need warm weather to flourish, so unlike most states where crops can only be harvested once per year, Florida agriculturists believe the state could harvest up to three crops each year because of its warm year-round climate. “Today’s historic vote is 80 years in the making —- Florida is now on the verge of establishing a state hemp program and creating a multibillion- dollar industry,” Fried said.
Maybe the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida state legislature should talk.
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