A great-grandmother was arrested at Disney World for carrying CBD oil to treat her painful arthritis — a felony in the state of Florida.
According to Fox 35 Orlando, 69-year-old Hester Jordan Burkhalter had been saving up for a trip to the Magic Kingdom for two years. On April 15th, while she and her family walked through a security checkpoint, an off-duty officer flagged a 1000-mg bottle of peppermint-flavored CBD oil in Burkhalter’s purse.
“I have really bad arthritis in my legs, arms, and shoulder,” Burkhalter told Fox 35. “And I use it for the pain. It helps.”
The grandmother’s doctor had reportedly recommended the oil for pain relief, however, a spokesperson from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “She was not able to produce anything from a doctor to verify that.”
Worse, the bottle tested positive for THC, the compound in marijuana that produces a high, despite the label indicating it contained none. Per an arrest report obtained by Yahoo Lifestyle, Burkhalter was handcuffed and taken to jail, where she spent 12 hours.
In 2014, former Florida governor Rick Scott signed a bill called Charlotte’s Law, which legalized prescription cannabis containing low levels of THC for children with the neurological disorder epilepsy. The law was named after a now 13-year-old girl who used medical marijuana to successfully diminish her seizures.
According to Orlando Weekly, a federal law legalized hemp (the cannabis plant) for industrial purposes after the passing of the Farm Bill, however, only under certain conditions.
In the police report, when Burkhalter was asked whether the oil contained THC, she didn’t answer, instead asking, “Is there a problem?”
“I didn’t know what to think, I couldn’t understand it…I didn’t know. I’ve never had but maybe one speeding ticket in my life. I’ve never been in a jailhouse,” Burkhalter told Fox 25.
The grandmother’s criminal defense attorney Jennifer Synnamon told Fox 35 Orlando, “The funny thing is, a little drop of oil, with the CBD, is a felony. Meanwhile, you can have up to 19.9 grams of leaf-marijuana, and it’s a first-degree misdemeanor.”
Synnamon could not be reached for comment by Yahoo Lifestyle. She told Fox News, “I’m very disappointed that the Orange County Sheriff’s Office handled the situation the way they did. Why Sheriff Mina would support his deputies using their resources for a CBD oil arrest of a 69-year-old woman, but then won’t do anything about the gas stations, health food stores, drug stores, etc. that are selling it to the open public is absolutely beyond my comprehension. The State of Florida finds nothing wrong with collecting the sales tax on illegal products, but they allow prosecution for possession of the same. I want to commend Aramis Ayala’s office for reviewing the case and swiftly determining that they would not prosecute.”
Burkhalter was released on a $2,000 bond and her charges were dropped.
“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,” a spokesperson from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “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.”