Great Grandmother Sues Walt Disney Corp. Over CBD Arrest

Hemp derived CBD oil

Opinion Editorial by Brit Smith, host of Blunt Talk

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) --- As it turns out, for one great-grandmother with arthritis, Disney World is not the happiest place on earth. And now - the company is facing a lawsuit over it.

69 year old Hester Burkhalter says she had been planning her family’s trip to Disney World for at least two years.

But as she tried to pass through a checkpoint to the Magic Kingdom in April, Security spotted a small bottle of CBD oil in her purse.

Burkhalter tried to explain that her doctor in Tennessee had recommended the non-intoxicating hemp extract oil to help with her arthritis pain, which she says she uses “because it helps.”

But theme park officials called law enforcement, unsure about the conflicting state and federal policies on hemp and marijuana.

Burkhalter says the off-duty cop who detained her was “mean,” never asking what was in the bottle. Instead, Burkhalter says he conducted a “presumptive test on-site,” before putting her in handcuffs.

Her attorneys argue that a field test cannot detect the difference between CBD and THC (the intoxicating, and in some places illegal cannabis compound.) Only a lab test can do that.

The great-grandmother was put in the back of a police car and then kept behind bars for twelve hours until she managed to post the $2,000 bail. She was facing felony charges of hashish possession.

It didn’t matter that the CBD bottle had a label stating it contained zero THC. It also didn’t matter that Burkhalter’s Tennessee doctor faxed a copy of her prescription to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office soon after her arrest.

It also apparently did not matter that hemp and its extracts have been legalized under federal law. The President made sure of that when he signed the 2018 Farm Bill with its hemp provision last December.

It didn't matter because there’s a gray area: Florida State law still says any cannabis-related product is illegal without a medical marijuana card. There is legislation currently sitting on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ desk that would make CBD legal in the state, in accordance with the new federal law. All he has to do is sign it.

It’s almost a month after the arrest, and the charges against Burkhalter have now been dropped. But she has still hired a civil rights attorney, and she is suing Walt Disney Corporation and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for illegal detainment, false imprisonment, defamation of character, and violation of civil rights.

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Blunt Talk is a podcast about cannabis hosted by Brit Smith every Monday. You can listen to all previous podcasts on iHeartRadio.

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