The Legal Confusion Surrounding CBD: Great-Grandmother Arrested For Carrying CBD At Disney World

November 25, 2019

The Legal Confusion Surrounding CBD: Great-Grandmother Arrested For Carrying CBD At Disney World

More and more each day you can see evidence of the increase in awareness and popularity of the beneficial cannabis-based compound known as CBD. There is growing evidence of its possible benefits for people suffering from symptoms caused by everything from anxiety to epilepsy. Combine this with many Americans’ desire for healthier and more natural alternatives to traditional prescription medications. Then, it is no surprise that the amount of CBD products and U.S. consumer sales of CBD has significantly increased year over year. 

Because of this, the legal and regulatory status of CBD is extremely complex and evolving. This leaves the federal and state governments scrambling to clearly determine what the legality of CBD is and, more importantly, for everyone to stay on the same page. Full approval and regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still has not been achieved and the legislation surrounding CBD is constantly evolving. So, much of the legality still up in the air between both the state and federal levels that it is often causing a very confusing gray area.

The FDA’s approval of the first CBD-based prescription medication Epidiolex in June of 2018 solidified the growing need for legal changes surrounding CBD. This left federal agencies, the federal government, and state governments trying to unify on the legality of the compound and needing to make changes on decades-old classifications and legislation.

One place there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding if CBD oil is legal or not is in the state of Florida. In this article, we’ll take a look at one recent incident in Florida in particular and how still-existing misconceptions about CBD are causing so much legal confusion.

CBD Oil Leads To Unexpected Arrest At Disney World

Any time you think of going on vacation, especially to Disney, it should be a time of fun, happiness, and making memories with family. After all, they say Disney World is the happiest place on earth.  One great-grandmother from Tennessee, 69-year-old Hester Burkhalter, had planned for two years on making great memories while taking a relaxing vacation with her family in Orlando, FL. Unfortunately, things turned out very differently than anticipated. All because of CBD oil.

While she was going through a checkpoint at the theme park entrance on April 15th, security personnel found a bottle of CBD tincture in Burkhalter’s purse. The tincture bottle was labeled as being CBD containing zero milligrams of the psychoactive cannabinoid delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Inside her purse was also the note from her physician prescribing the CBD oil to help with her chronic symptoms stemming from arthritis. 

After the tincture was discovered, to her surprise, Burkhalter was actually arrested by a nearby off-duty Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy for “illegal narcotics believed to be THC oil”, charged with a felony of possession of hashish (a concentrated form of THC), and later released after posting a $2,000 bond. The CBD oil that she was carrying was tested twice for THC.  It was reported that the first test came back positive and the second negative.

The charges have since been dropped and she retained the services of lawyer Benjamin Crump. Crump filed a lawsuit on Burkhalter’s behalf against both Disney and the Orange County Sheriff’s Officealleging "illegal detention, false arrest and a violation of her civil rights," WESH 2 reports.

This event points to the murky and often conflicting legal situation surrounding CBD. A situation that is made more convoluted by misunderstandings that still exist about cannabis and CBD in particular.


Problems Caused By Common Misconceptions On CBD 

The arrest of this great-grandmother at Disney World was a very unfortunate incident. An incident that was somewhat caused by some misconceptions and myths about CBD, like what it contains and where it comes from, that are still somewhat common. Combine this with differing legislation and confusion is sure to arise.

CBD comes from the strain of plant known as Cannabis Sativa L., which can be both marijuana and hemp plants. But, the source of the CBD, whether from marijuana or from hemp, is what is the main deciding factor in determining the legal status. The main difference between marijuana and hemp is based on its chemical composition. Specifically the concentration of THC

In the U.S., for a plant to be considered hemp, THC concentrations cannot exceed 0.3%. Any more than that and it is considered marijuana. Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. AfterThe Hemp Farming Act of 2018, S. 2667 (sometimes referred to as the Farm Bill) passed in December, hemp was federally legalized and formally removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Which would make hemp-derived CBD legal.

Unfortunately, because of lack of education, it is often mistaken that all CBD is derived from marijuana which would then mean that all CBD is classified as a Schedule I substance by the DEA. Which, as you can see now,  is false. Not all CBD contains the “high”-producing compound THC. Also, some states still have not enacted clear legislation differentiating hemp from marijuana as being two distinctly separate plants.

These misconceptions and misunderstandings play a huge role in the existence of any confusion on the current legal status of CBD, especially on the state level. Hemp-derived CBD can be bought online and over-the-counter throughout the country now. Marijuana-derived CBD can be purchased by qualifying patients or adults depending on the state. Even though marijuana is a Schedule I drug in the CSA on a federal level, marijuana legality on a state government level differs from state to state. So, oftentimes, many states are left wondering and confused about how to classify CBD and what exactly the current legality of it is. 

Legal Confusion About CBD In Florida

Florida was one of several states who, at the time of Hester Burkhalter’s arrest, were trying to remain clear on what exactly the legality of CBD products, like the CBD oil she was carrying at Disney, should be. Not only that but also what to enforce and how to enforce it from day to day. 

The confusion exists because of extremely conflicting legislation between the federal and state levels. Florida is one of the states where marijuana and marijuana-derived products can only be purchased by medically approved and prescribed patients. But, even after hemp (and hemp-derived CBD products) was legalized on a federal level by the 2018 Farm Bill, during the time of Burkhalter’s arrest and up until June 25th, 2019, CBD still remained illegal in Florida. That is because the Florida Department of Agriculture had not yet differentiated hemp from marijuana and had said it is illegal to sell and possess hemp or CBD in the state. This directly conflicts with federal legislation on hemp. Leading many lawyers to argue that the federal laws trump state legislation. So, at the time of Burkhalter’s arrest, even hemp-derived CBD was illegal in Florida. Her arrest was one of a very small number of incidents where police had otherwise beenmostly hands-off while state legislation surrounding CBD was being evaluated. 

Even while it was still technically illegal in Florida, CBD products continued to be increasingly available in stores throughout the state. This is the case in many states, even when marijuana itself has been legalized for medical or recreational use. 

After strong urging from Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and other legislators, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Florida Senate Bill 1020. The bill finally enacted legalization and clear regulation of hemp and hemp extract and made state and federal law consistent. Selling CBD products became legal as long as the regulations outlined in the bill were met. Specifically that the CBD is derived from hemp that does not contain more than 0.3% THC. Products also have to be marked with a link to the certificate of analysis of the hemp extract by an independent testing laboratory. Most importantly for consumers, this bill, in turn, means that possession of hemp-derived CBD is no longer illegal in Florida.

Wrapping It All Up

As you can see, the legality of CBD is still very complicated and constantly evolving. Especially on the state level. Combined with the misconceptions about CBD and assumptions that all CBD is the same has led to enforcement in error. Like the unfortunate event that great-grandmother Hester Burkhalter experienced at Disney World. 

The good news is, as more research is being done on CBD, and regulations and laws are being worked through on both the federal and state level regarding its legality, the confusing gray area is beginning to dissipate. For now, if you are interested in starting CBD or switching to a new product, make sure you are purchasing a 100% hemp-derived CBD product that is third-party lab tested and approved. This way you can confidently avoid THC, which has yet to be fully legalized across the U.S.

One of the goals of our team here at Crush CBD is to eliminate the misconceptions about  exactly what CBD is, what it does (and does not do), and educate the world about the vast array of great potential benefits of this super-cannabinoid. We strive to not only offer the highest quality CBD products on the market but be a resource for everyone about all things CBD. Check out the rest of the articles on our news page to learn more about CBD and stay informed. 

All Crush CBD products, made right here in the USA with our partner hemp farmers, are all-natural, non-GMO, and 100% hemp-derived. With no detectable levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.  You can also be confident knowing that our products are third-party lab tested and approved to substantiate these facts. 

Not sure which Crush CBD product might work best for you? Don’t hesitate tocontact us now. We are here to help!