Recently, at the age of 69, the grandmother Hester Jordan Burkhalter was arrested while entering the Disney World in Orlando. Because she was found to be in possession of “illegal narcotics believed to be THC oil.” In other words, she was carrying hemp-based CBD in her purse. It was discovered by the guards at the gate.
But now, the supposed offender has actually gone on the offensive and decided to sue everyone involved. The incident was bright enough to shine a light on all the confusing laws regarding CBD and cannabis.
After planning for two years, Burkhalter arrived from North Carolina in April. Being a patient of severe arthritis, she knew that all the walking in the “magic kingdom” was going to take its toll. To remedy that, she brought along her doctor-recommended hemp-based CBD: a pain relief treatment. And it’s growing in popularity most rapidly.
According to Fox 35 News, with whom the great-grandmother exchanged comments, she’s been using CBD to treat her arthritic legs, arms, and shoulder and it’s been working great. But as mentioned, rather than a self-prescribed treatment, the cannabinoid was recommended by her doctor. It’s a fact proven by the note that she’s still carrying during her arrest by the security/off-duty county deputy.
Burkhalter was kept in custody for 12 hours after the suspicious substance was proved to be CBD. However, as the incident riled up enough public outcry, the sheriff’s office let her go. But that doesn’t mean the office considers the original enforcement unlawful.
The official statement defended its stance by citing that the deputy was duty-bound to apprehend anyone found in possession of CBD since it’s considered a felony act under the Florida State Statute. It also stated that while considered a felony, the main focus of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is the eradication of deadly drugs like fentanyl and heroin off the community.
It’s never good news for any authority when a local incident gains national notoriety. Since CBD is extremely popular, crossing over class and demographics, the police soon found itself as the sole villain criticized from all directions.
As for Burkhalter, she’s understandably upset. According to the Orlando Sentinel, she intends to sue the Sheriff’s Office and Disney for illegal detainment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, violation of civil rights, and defamation of character. And she’s going to get the help of Ben Crump, her attorney.
Fact is, the “offense” committed by the vacationing grandmother is being carried out every day in the Floridan streets without rousing the police to an “arrest riot”, according to Fox 35 News. As attorney Jennifer Synnamon puts it, people are committing this felony without being aware that they’re doing something illegal due to the overwhelming net of confusion regarding cannabis and cannabis derivative possession laws.
Since an elderly person is involved in the incident, it’s enticing to paint the cops as the sole culprit. But the fact is, the cumulative confusion is so extensive that it’s become extremely difficult to navigate the legal water, so to speak. And this applies to the cops as well.
The source of this confusion is the difference between the Federal and State laws. While last year’s Farm Bill legalized hemp-based CBD in Congress, some state laws are still enforcing the old punishments. Even California’s not entirely without fault in the matter. Another fact is, while public opinion has changed in time regarding cannabis and cannabis derivatives, local laws retained the old structure. For instance, consider Florida. While carrying no more than 20 grams of marijuana is considered misdemeanor, possession of CBD in any amount is a felony.
Ben Crump wonders about the logic behind this. The sale-and-purchase of CBD is happening all over Orlando and Florida. You can walk into any store and buy your favorite brand. Can something be illegal if there’s no rationale to back it up?