Florida just can’t help itself in bungling its adjudication of marijuana laws sometimes, as a great grandmother was arrested in Disney World for carrying CBD oil. Sixty-nine-year-old Hester Jordan Burkhalter reportedly spent 12 hours in jail before being released on a $2,000 bond on charges of hashish possession. Though the Orange County Sheriff’s Office says their deputy was following the law in the arrest, the charges were later dropped.
The details make this story rather tragic: A doctor recommended CBD oil to Burkhalter to alleviate pain and symptoms from her arthritis. She had that note of recommendation on her person at the time of arrest, but police say that doesn’t matter. What’s worse is Burkhalter’s bottle of peppermint CBD oil explicitly stated it contained zero milligrams of THC. But police tested the oil and said they found traces of THC, triggering the arrest.
The caveat here, of course, is that if Burkhalter did pull an okey-doke (a.k.a. replacing pure CBD oil with a THC-infused tincture into the bottle), then the cops aren’t really at fault here. They just did their jobs.
While astute readers know the 2018 Farm Bill effectively legalized CBD products nationwide, Florida contended otherwise at the time of the arrest. Hemp and CBD fell under a gray area, as “some lawyers argue the federal government’s action trumps Florida laws, which generally don’t differentiate hemp from marijuana,” explained the Tampa Bay Times. “Others say hemp is still illegal in Florida until the Legislature says otherwise.”
The sad irony in all this is Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried was successful in pushing through hemp legislation just last week. On the penultimate day of Florida’s legislative session, the Legislature approved a bill that would allow the state to create its own hemp program thanks to a bipartisan push. However, hemp remains illegal in the state until July 1, according to The Miami Herald.
So yes Burkhalter’s story is disappointing and could’ve been avoided. Generally, police had been hands off in punishing people carrying CBD products. “The few examples of police cracking down have been against retailers, not consumers,” reports the Times. But apparently a 69-year-old great-grandmother in Disney World was too much a menace to society for police to ignore.