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Woman arrested for having cbd oil at disney

Woman Files Lawsuit After 2019 CBD Oil Arrest at Disney World

ORLANDO, Fla. — Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has filed a civil lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company on behalf of Hester Burkhalter, a North Carolina grandmother who was arrested at Magic Kingdom in April 2019 after security found CBD oil in her purse.

What You Need To Know
  • North Carolina woman arrested last year at Disney World for CBD oil
  • Hester Burkhalter’s attorneys have filed lawsuit against Disney
  • Burkhalter is being represented by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump
  • RELATED: Woman in Disney CBD Oil Arrest: Body-Cam Video Proves Wrongful Arrest

According to Crump, Burkhalter had the “CBD oil per her doctor’s recommendation to treat her advance arthritis.”

Burkhalter was arrested and charged with possession of hashish. The charges were later dropped.

“Disney’s stated mission is to make everyone’s dreams come true. Instead, they turned a harmless grandmother’s expensive Disney vacation into a nightmare by treating her like a criminal with the full participation of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office,” Crump said in a statement Wednesday about the lawsuit. “We have given Disney and Orange County several chances to own their mistakes and make this right. The arrogance, complacency and lack of corporate responsibility demonstrated by these organizations demand correction and justice.”

Crump told Spectrum News in April 2019 they were seeking a public apology from Walt Disney World.

Body camera footage released by Orange County Sheriff’s Office at the time shows deputies meeting with Burkhalter after being stopped by security officers at a checkpoint in front of Magic Kingdom.

In the footage, an Orange County deputy is heard saying, “If it doesn’t test positive for THC, then she can have it back.” Deputies tested her oil with a marijuana test kit.

“This does not contain THC,” the deputy is heard saying on the body camera footage. “This is not criminal. It is not criminal to have that.”

Despite finding the oil to be legal, deputies tested it again.

This is when Burkhalter attorney Michelle Rayner-Goolsby said they showed their true intentions.

“At that point that it did not come back positive for THC, you needed to allow her to go back into the park and enjoy this trip with her family,” Rayner-Goolsby said. “But for whatever reason, they were hell bent on arresting her, arresting somebody, that day.”

Two weeks after Burkhalter’s arrest, the Sheriff’s Office issued new guidance for deputies outlining the state’s law on CBD that said “…because of the confusion surrounding CBD, deputies are encouraged to consult on-call Narcotics or Legal prior to effectuating an arrest or seizing CBD.”

Spectrum News reached out to Disney and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office about the lawsuit, but as of Wednesday had not received a response.

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