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CBD User Sues Disney for Wrongful Arrest at Magic Kingdom

Last year, Hester Burkhalter, a 69-year-old great-grandmother from North Carolina who uses cannabidiol (CBD) to treat osteoarthritic pain, was arrested for marijuana possession while vacationing at Disney World in Florida. After placing a container of CBD oil in a bin while going through security to enter the Magic Kingdom, the guard asked if the product contained tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Burkhalter said she was not sure.

Burkhalter was then detained and the product was tested for THC by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office twice. The first time it tested negative. The second time it tested positive.

CNN reports:

Burkhalter was then separated from her family and placed under arrest for felony drug possession. She was subjected to drug sniffing dogs, vomited during transport, and requested and was denied medical care, the complaint alleges. When Burkhalter arrived at the detention facility, she had her mug shot taken and was then escorted to an adjacent room "where she was instructed by other officers to strip naked and to 'bend over' for a body cavity search," according to the complaint.

Though Burkhalter has filed a civil lawsuit against the Orange County Sheriff and The Walt Disney Co. for wrongful arrest, and will likely prevail,

Although CBD is enjoying a surge in popularity among older Americans and widespread coverage in the media, it needs to be remembered that:

  1. Cannabis is still controversial.

  2. Even if hemp-derived CBD and products containing less than 0.3% THC have been descheduled at the federal level, some municipalities and states have yet to enact laws to recognize this distinction. Others, like Idaho, maintain that products containing even trace amounts of THC are Schedule I substances.

  3. Not all CBD products are created equally. Some companies diligently test to ensure they've avoided THC contamination. Others do not.

  4. Therefore, traveling with CBD is not entirely risk-free.

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