Elderly Arthritis Patient Sues Disneyworld After CBD Arrest


Disneyworld has long been known to many as the “happiest place on earth.” For one 70-year old grandmother however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When Hester Burkhalter went with her family on a long awaited trip to Disneyworld in 2019, she could not have imagined the trauma she and her family would endure. 

During the initial security check before entering the park, an off-duty sheriff’s deputy found CBD oil in Ms. Burkhalter’s purse. Following the discovery, Ms. Burkhalter, who uses CBD oil to treat severe arthritis in her legs, was placed under arrest, forced to undergo an invasive strip search, and wound up spending more than 12 hours in an Orlando jail, her lawsuit alleges. Burkhalter, who was arrested in front of her husband and three children, is suing Disneyworld for what she claims was a wrongful CBD arrest. 

Details of Burkhalter’s CBD Arrest and Lawsuit

Though the War on Drugs has lost much of its support over the last decade, there are still drug laws on the books that more closely resemble 1960’s America than 2020. However, CBD oil is legal in Florida, so as Burkhalter claims in her lawsuit, she was wrongfully arrested. Law enforcement officials even tested her CBD and did not find even a trace amount of THC. On top of her arrest, Mrs. Burkhalter’s family was ejected from Disneyworld.

In her lawsuit, Burkhalter is seeking $6 million in compensatory damages and $12 million in punitive damages while her husband and three children are each seeking $1 million in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages, according to USA Today.

Archaic Cannabis Laws Still Have Influence

Though CBD is legal in Florida and is sold widely throughout the state, Hester Burkhalter was still arrested. A CBD arrest should not be happening in America in 2020. Her arrest reflects the sentiment that many in our criminal justice system still hold. Though medical cannabis is now legal in Florida as well as a majority of the country, many law enforcement officials still immediately write off those who use medical cannabis as criminals. There is no better example of this invasive and dangerous attitude towards medical marijuana than a 70-year old mother of one disabled child and two adopted young children being arrested at Disneyworld for being in possession of a medicine she requires to live a healthy life.

Though Helen Burkhalter’s story is headline-worthy, there are countless other people who have faced severe punishment, including lengthy prison sentences, for the simple act of possessing a plant with proven medicinal values, or products derived from one. Let Hester Burkhalter’s story be a dire warning that although cannabis legalization is sweeping much of our nation, many Americans must still live in fear for what happens if they simply try to enter a theme park with the medicine that helps them live life pain-free.

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