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Woman Sues Disney Over Cbd Arrest

Joshua Lee
5 min read
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A woman is suing The Walt Disney Company after being arrested for CBD at Walt Disney World in Florida. Disney and the police are refusing to speak about the ordeal.

The suit alleges that Orange County Sheriff’s Office, at the behest of Walt Disney World staff, arrested Hester Burkhalter, a 69-year-old great-grandmother from Hickory, N.C. in 2019 for narcotics possession after she was found to be in possession of a bottle of CBD oil. The suit alleges illegal detention, false arrest and the violation of Burkhalter’s civil rights.

“Disney and uniformed local law enforcement officials acting at its direction and under its authority as a Florida landowner … arrested and detained, processed as a narcotics felon and strip-searched a harmless, entirely blameless American great-grandmother, whose only ‘crime’ was her desire to lessen crippling osteoarthritic pain with a doctor-recommended hemp-based oil,” said the lawsuit.

Burkhalter was asked by officers if the oil contained any THC, to which she responded that she wasn’t sure. According to the label on the bottle, the substance had no THC. The bottle tested negative for THC the first time officers examined it but tested positive a second time.

Burkhalter was released from jail when her son bailed her out around 15 hours after being processed.

According to
CNN the July 29 complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit in Orange County against The Walt Disney Company and a number of its executives as well as the Orange County Sheriff and a number of its deputies.

During a news conference last week, Burkhalter described being arrested as the “most humiliating day of my life.” She reportedly vomited during transport and requested medical care but was denied.

Burkhalter’s lawyer said Disney has never apologized for the incident. It did manage to ban the great-grandmother and her family from ever visiting the Magic Kingdom™ again—though the order was later rescinded.

It might sound like a given that she’ll win the case—after all, what lunatic tries to lock up a senior citizen for using a widely available medicine that her doctor recommended?—but her case could be tougher to prove than you might think. CBD is still technically illegal in America if it isn’t approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Since the FDA hasn’t approved any over-the-counter CBD oils, it’s unlikely that Burkhalter’s oil was legal. As distasteful as it is, the police might have been completely in their rights to arrest the woman.

This highlights a serious issue that has arisen again and again since the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp by delineating between it and “marijuana.” Many consumers are still under the impression that CBD-infused products were legalized by the bill, but the truth is a little weirder.

CBD is the active ingredient in
Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical used to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children. According to federal regulations, any compound that appears as an active ingredient in a drug must be approved by the FDA for over-the-counter delivery before it can be sold—generally a good rule. But that means that every bottle of CBD oil on every shelf in America is actually a black market item.

So far the feds have not pressed the matter and have kept their mouths shut when it comes to personal use and over-the-counter sales. But state-to-state transportation is still frowned upon, and rare cases of police deciding to enforce the laws have occurred.

The FDA has been fast-tracking the bureaucratic process of approving the drug, but critics have said it hasn’t been fast enough. Last month the White House reviewed the agency’s
guidance report for handling research of CBD and cannabis in July, but it’s unclear if and when it plans to move forward with the process.

N.M. Cannabis Continues to Skyrocket

Marijuana is proving to be a COVID-safe industry as sales across the nation have gone through the roof. Here in New Mexico, patients are buying more weed than ever.

Forbes reports that the industry saw an initial two-week spike in US dispensary sales in March. This spike likely came from consumers stocking up for what could have been quite a dry spell. As states began to deem dispensaries “essential” businesses, buyers slowed down a bit and sales leveled out.

According to a
white paper industry report compiled by LeafLink, Flowhub and Vangst, a few more spikes appeared before the industry stabilized in late April at an incredible 40 percent higher amount than 2019.

Ultra Health recently published a press release that says combined patient sales from all of the state’s licensed producers totaled $92 million during the first six months of 2020—an increase of $32.5 million or 55 percent more than the sales from the same time period in 2019.

Analysts say that people spending more time at home and suffering from a lack of entertainment could be contributing to the sales. Recent findings that cannabis use could help lower the intensity of COVID-19 symptoms could also have helped.
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