Great-Grandmother Arrested for Possession of CBD Oil at Disney World

The Orange County Sheriff's Office eventually dropped the felony possession charge, but not until Hester Burkhalter spent 12 hours of her family vacation in jail.

Green Rush Daily

69-year-old Hester Burkhalter had saved up for two years to join her family on its first trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. But the great-grandmother ended up spending more than 12 hours of her family vacation behind bars after Orange County sheriff’s deputies arrested her for possessing a 30 mL bottle of CBD tincture. Police initially charged Burkhalter with felony possession of marijuana. But ultimately, Captain Carlos Torres of the Orange Country Sheriff’s Office dropped the charge against her. Cap. Torres still stood up for his deputy’s decision to arrest Burkhalter, highlighting the absurd enforcement actions stemming from Florida’s laws against hemp CBD.

Great-Grandmother Jailed For Doctor-Recommended CBD Oil

69-year-old great-grandmother Hester Burkhalter was with her family on a vacation to Walt Disney World. But she was arrested and charged with a felony for possessing CBD oil. Park security found the oil in Burkhalter’s purse at a security checkpoint at the Transportation & Ticket Center between Disney World and the Magic Kingdom.

After discovering the clearly labeled bottle of Peppermint CBD tincture, Disney Park Security notified Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies. When police arrived, Hester Burkhalter showed them the recommendation letter her physician back home had given her, instructing her to take CBD to treat the arthritis in her legs, arms and shoulder.

The tincture’s label stated that the 30 mL solution contained 1000 mg of CBD and 0 mg of THC. Under recently modified federal law, CBD products are legal so long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. But the deputy went through the trouble to test the tincture for CBD. And in Burkhalter’s arrest report, the deputy said that the THC-test came back positive, but did not specify any amount.

As a result of the positive on the THC test, police arrested the 69-year-old, placing her in handcuffs and taking her to jail. Burkhalter spent more than 12 hours behind bars before Orange Country Sheriffs Captain Carlos Torres dropped the felony marijuana charge against her.

Charges Dropped in Absurd Disney CBD Arrest

The Burkhalters hail from North Carolina, where despite the state’s partial decriminalization of minor marijuana possession offenses, THC is completely prohibited. CBD, on the other hand, is legal. Retailers can sell CBD oils, tinctures and topical products, they just can’t advertise any health claims or sell CBD-infused foods or beverages.

So Hester Burkhalter wasn’t breaking the law when she purchased CBD oil on the recommendation of her physician. The 69-year-old Burkhalter deals with arthritis, like many her age. CBD’s anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties make it an effective treatment for arthritis. And considering all the walking a trip to Disney entails, no wonder Burkhalter brought it with her.

Based on the label of her CBD tincture, Burkhalter had no way of knowing that it contained some amount of THC. Or enough that the health product would land her in jail in Florida.

And what make’s Burkhalter’s case so baffling is that Florida just passed a law legalizing hemp. That bill is still awaiting signing from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But police are still arresting elderly people for possessing hemp CBD. In fact, Cap. Torres defended his deputy’s actions, saying he was just doing his job and following the law.

" Adam Drury : Adam is a staff writer for Green Rush Daily who hails from Corvallis, Oregon. He’s an artist, musician, and higher educator with deep roots in the cannabis community. His degrees in literature and psychology drive his interest in the therapeutic use of cannabis for mind and body wellness.."