Imagine finally being able to fulfill your life-long dream of going to Disney World, only to find yourself arrested for using a perfectly natural arthritis aid. It sounds absurd, but that’s exactly what just happened to Hester Burkhalter, who uses CBD oil, a cannabis product that contains no THC, to treat pain.
- Burkhalter suffers from extreme arthritis pain and turned to CBD products after exhausting all other pain control avenues. While CBD is a cannabis product, the type of oil she uses doesn’t have the psychoactive compound (THC), meaning it doesn’t cause a stereotypical “high.”
- It isn’t clear why, but local police allegedly stopped her just outside of the theme park and asked to see the bottle of CBD she was carrying in her purse. Although the bottle’s label even indicated it contained 0% THC, authorities still arrested her and charged her with felony possession of hashish.
- Burkhalter spent nearly eight hours at the local jail, where she was booked and processed like any other criminal, despite having a doctor’s note for the oil.
- When local news reporters asked the Orange County Sheriff’s Office why they felt the need to arrest her, they called it “justified.” In fact, Capt. Carlos Torres the arresting officer “acted within the scope of the law,” adding that, “Just because you’re buying it at a store doesn’t make it okay, and doesn’t make it legal.”
- Confusingly, it isn’t even clear whether CBD oil IS illegal. Federal law differentiates hemp oil (containing no THC) and true cannabis products; it only defines products containing THC as illegal. But hemp itself is, in fact, illegal in Florida, creating a legal grey zone and plenty of trouble for users.
- Shortly after the arrest, Burkhalter told FOX 35 Orlando that it was her doctor who originally told her to try the supplement. “I have really bad arthritis in my legs and in my arms and in my shoulder and I use it for the pain because it helps,” she explained.
- Charges were eventually dropped, but Burkhalter’s trip was essentially ruined in the process for virtually no reason. “We had planned on this trip for over two years and we saved up for it and we were real excited,” she said. “I didn’t know what to think, I couldn’t understand it. I didn’t feel like I’d done nothing wrong.”
- Lawyer Jennifer Synnamon, who represents Mrs. Burkhalter, also expressed her extreme misgivings about the event. “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,” she exclaimed.
How do you feel about Burkhalter’s arrest? Was she in the wrong, or are anti-CBD laws punitive and unfair? More importantly, do you think it’s okay to arrest a senior when the same substance is openly for sale in Florida’s local shops?
Let us know if you’re as enraged as we were.