Great-grandmother with CBD oil arrested at Disney World
Disney World may be the most magical place on Earth, but it turned into a legal nightmare for a great-grandmother with arthritis.
A 69-year-old woman was arrested at a Disney World checkpoint when an Orange County Deputy found CBD oil in her purse. She then spent 12 hours behind bars before being released on a $2,000 bond.
Hester Jordan Burkhalter, a great-grandmother from North Carolina, began using CBD oil for her arthritis after her doctor recommended it, Fox 35 in Orlando reported. She even had a note from the medical professional in her purse at the time of arrest, but it didn’t matter.
Burkhalter told Fox 35 that she had been planning on the trip for two years. “I have really bad arthritis in my legs, in my arms and in my shoulder,” she said. “I use (CBD oil) for the pain because it helps.” When she was stopped by security outside of the Magic Kingdom, however, she was arrested. “I’ve never had one speeding ticket in my life.”
Despite the fact that it’s sold on store shelves across the state, CBD oil is still technically illegal in the state of Florida (unless the user has a prescription). This has created a confusing situation in the Sunshine State.
Jennifer Synnamon, a Florida attorney, told Fox 35, “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.”
While the Orange County Sheriff’s Office told Fox 35 that their deputy was just following the law, the charges against Burkhalter were eventually dropped.
In a statement provided to Fox News, Burkhalter’s lawyer Jennifer Synnamon said “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.”
UPDATE: The Orange County Sheriff’s Office provided Fox News with the following statement: “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.”
Michael Hollan is an associate lifestyle editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent on Twitter: @M_Hollan
N.C. Woman, 69, Arrested Outside Disney World After Security Finds Her CBD Oil for Her Arthritis
A North Carolina woman found herself behind bars after police discovered CBD oil in her purse outside Disney World.
Hester Burkhalter, 69, was arrested and spent eight hours in jail after security outside Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, found the oil on April 15, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by PEOPE.
The great-grandmother told FOX 35 Orlando that she uses the oil as per her doctor’s recommendation to ease her arthritis symptoms.
“I have really bad arthritis in my legs and in my arms and in my shoulder and I use it for the pain because it helps,” she told the outlet, adding that she had a doctor’s note in her purse.
Burkhalter’s CBD oil tested positive for THC, the chemical responsible for the high that accompanies marijuana — despite the fact that the bottle reportedly claimed it contained zero milligrams of THC.
She was booked on third-degree felony charges of possession of hashish, according to the affidavit.
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CBD oil is extracted from hemp, which is in the same plant family as marijuana but contains very little THC, and not enough to get you high, according to CBS News.
Capt. Carlos Torres of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office told FOX 35 that because the deputy knew CBD oil was illegal, he had probable cause to arrest Burkhalter.
“He certainly acted within the scope of the law,” Torres said. “[Buying CBD oil] is a risk because you don’t know what you’re buying. Just because you’re buying it at a store doesn’t make it okay, and doesn’t make it legal.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, Florida’s laws regarding CBD are hazy, as hemp is illegal in the state, but there is no consensus among officials as to whether or not federal law, which differentiates hemp from marijuana, trumps Florida law.
Burkhalter was released from jail on a $2,000 bond, a spokesperson for Orange County Corrections told PEOPLE.
Though the charges have been dropped, according to Fox 35, the incident certainly put a damper on her highly-anticipated trip.
“We had planned on this trip for over two years and we saved up for it and we were real excited,” she told the outlet. “I didn’t know what to think, I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t feel like I’d done nothing wrong.”
Burkhalter’s lawyer Jennifer Synnamon told Fox News in a statement she was “very disappointed” by how the incident was handled.
“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,” she said.
Spokespersons for Disney World did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment.