A great-grandmother arrested at Disney World for possession of peppermint flavored CBD, which she uses to manage pain, is demanding an apology from Disney and the Orange County Sherriff’s office for violating her civil rights, reports NBC affiliate station WESH. The woman, 69-year-old Hester Jordan Burkhalter of North Carolina, has already retained the services of high profile attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin’s family in the aftermath of his shooting.
Burkhalter was at Disney World last month, on a vacation that she had planned for years, when an Orange County, Fl. police officer arrested her at a checkpoint after discovering peppermint-flavored CBD oil in her purse. Her doctor had recommended it to treat her arthritis pain. Acting responsibly, she even had a note from the doctor in her purse, which she showed to the arresting officer. None of that mattered, however, and Burkhalter spent 12 hours behind bars before being released on a $2,000 bail. The charges were eventually dropped.
“I have really bad arthritis in my legs, in my arms, and in my shoulder,” Burkhalter said “I use [CBD oil] for the pain because it helps. I’ve never had one speeding ticket in my life.”
On Tuesday, Crump said both Disney and the Orange County Sheriff’s office "need to take responsibility for their actions,” and if they failed to do so he would file a lawsuit on Burkhalter’s behalf.
Burkhalter’s lawsuit would allege that she endured "illegal detention, false arrest, and a violation of her civil rights when she tried to enter Disney World with her family carrying a small bottle of CBD oil in her purse recommended by her doctor for chronic arthritis pain,” said Crump.
In a statement, the Orange County Sherriff’s office said the arrest was still “lawful” and that CBD was “illegal” although they had declined to prosecute. Disney World said it was a law enforcement matter.
Much like cannabis containing THC, the legal status of CBD is something of a gray area in the United States. Although cannabis is still illegal on the Federal level, it is legal with a prescription in Florida. Hemp-derived CBD was also supposedly legalized nationwide with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and is widely available in stores, but it appears to remain technically illegal in Florida according to a rarely, if ever, enforced state statute.