A 69-year-old woman is demanding an apology for her arrest at a Walt Disney World security checkpoint last month after a guard found CBD oil while searching her… A Russian news agency is reporting that Brittney Griner has been arrested in Russia for possession of cannabis oil.
Woman Arrested for CBD Oil at Disney World Demands Apology
Arrest highlights disconnect between federal and state laws on CBD
By AP and Staff • Published May 14, 2019 • Updated on May 16, 2019 at 11:45 am
A 69-year-old great-grandmother is demanding an apology for her arrest at a Walt Disney World security checkpoint last month after a guard found CBD oil while searching her purse.
Hester Burkhalter has hired high-profile attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Trayvon Martin’s family.
Crump said Tuesday that Disney World and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office “need to take responsibility for their actions” or he will file a lawsuit on the North Carolina woman’s behalf, alleging violations of her civil rights.
Burkhalter was arrested on April 15 and said she was detained for 15 hours over a bottle of CBD oil that her doctor in North Carolina recommended for arthritis. The oil was discovered when she put her purse on a table for inspection and tested positive for THC, according to an arrest report from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
“I was in shock,” Burkhalter told NBC News of her experience. “I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong at all.”
CBD oil, which is extracted from cannabis plants but doesn’t produce a high, has become a craze across the country since a 2018 federal law legalized industrial hemp.
NBC Miami has reported that the industry is expected to grow to $5.9 billion by the end of the year, up from $619 million in 2018, according to researchers with Brightfield Group, a CBD marketing research firm.
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But state laws vary with Florida in a special case of legal limbo. In the Sunshine State, CBD oil is, for now, only legal for sale with a prescription at certified Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers.
According to Burkhalter’s legal team, she provided a doctor’s note in response to her arrest and her doctor indicated the oil was legal in North Carolina.
Lawmakers in North Carolina, however, are in the process of trying to bring state laws in line with the 2018 federal law that removed hemp from a list of Schedule I drugs, said Jon Lanier, assistant general counsel with North Carolina’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
He said he thought law enforcement in his state was generally aware of changes with the federal law.
“Largely where we are right now is that the regulations are catching up to the production,” Lanier said.
NBC has requested comment from Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for clarity on what out of state visitors who may have a doctor’s note or prescription should know.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has said in an emailed statement that Burkhalter’s arrest was lawful. Still, prosecutors dropped a drug charge against Burkhalter, saying it wasn’t suitable for prosecution.
A new law that passed Florida’s legislature this month would legalize CBD oil on July 1 and establish a framework for regulating the products. Florida’s new law, however, has not yet been signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. NBC has reached out for comment on whether and when DeSantis planned to sign the measure.
For now, Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services warns on its website that “CBD products being sold in Florida are unregulated, untested, and without standards on what consumers are putting into their bodies.”
The NBC 6 Investigators team earlier this year purchased 35 CBD products from seven different companies and took the samples to an accredited testing facility. Twenty of the samples had less than half of the amount of CBD advertised on the label. Some samples had no CBD at all.
Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesperson Franco Ripple said the department is not sending cease and desist letters to businesses that sell CBD products but should the state’s regulatory program go into effect “it will allow us to test those products for consumer safety.”
The FDA, meanwhile, is planning a public hearing on May 31 as it considers regulations for how cannabis-derived products.
Mercury ‘closely monitoring’ after report Russians arrested Brittney Griner on cannabis oil possession charge
In the offseason, Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner has played for Russia’s UMMC Ekaterinburg since 2015. Many of the top players in the WNBA compete overseas because the money is so lucrative. (Photo by /BSR Agency/Getty Images)
PHOENIX – A WNBA player the Russian Federal Customs Service said it arrested on suspicion of smuggling liquid cannabis is Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury confirmed Saturday.
The star center was detained at an airport in February after Russian authorities found what they claimed were vape cartridges containing hashish in her luggage.
“We are aware of and are closely monitoring the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia,” the Phoenix Mercury said in a statement. “We remain in constant contact with her family, her representation, the WNBA and NBA. We love and support Brittney and at this time our main concern is her safety, physical and mental health, and her safe return home.”
According to Intefax, a Russian independent news agency, the Russian Federal Customs Service reported that “a U.S. citizen was passing through the green channel at Sheremetyevo Airport upon arriving from New York (when) a working dog from the Sheremetyevo Customs canine department detected the possible presence of narcotic substances in the accompanying luggage.”
As officials screened it, the inspection “confirmed the presence of vapes with specifically-smelling liquid, and an expert determined that the liquid was cannabis oil (hash oil), which is a narcotic substance,” the Customs Service reported.
Griner has won four titles with UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Russian Euroleague basketball team. The team is stacked with WNBA talent including Mercury teammate Diana Taurasi, Breanna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot and 2021 Most Valuable Player Jonquel Jones.
Griner can face five to 10 years in prison for smuggling narcotic substances on a substantial scale, according to Russia Interfax.
Given the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the WNBA said in a recent statement that they are taking measures to keep players safe.
“The league has also been in contact with WNBA players who are in Russia, either directly or through their agents,” the statement read. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
On Saturday, the league issued another statement, saying, “Brittney Griner has the WNBA’s full support and our main priority is her swift and safe return to the United States.”
Many of the WNBA’s top players compete overseas in the offseason because salaries are so lucrative. ESPN reported in 2016 that Griner was making close to $1 million that season while Taurasi brought in around $1.5 million.
The team also charters flights to away games. Earlier this week, Sports Illustrated reported that the WNBA issued a league-record $500,000 fine to the New York Liberty for traveling by charter flights during the second half of last season.