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Disney World sued for $18m by grandma arrested over CBD oil

A North Carolina great-grandmother is suing Disney World in a $18million lawsuit after she was arrested for having CBD oil in her bag at the park.

Hester Burkhalter, 69, was arrested on April 15, 2019 when Disney security found a vial of cannabinoid oil, or CBD oil, in her purse when she handed it to be searched at Magic Kingdom, where she was visiting with her two adopted children.

The new lawsuit was announced Wednesday by prominent civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who also represents the cases of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, against Disney, the Orlando Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

They allege Burkhalter was wrongfully arrested and detained for the oil, which was for medicinal purposes for her arthritis and did not contain THC. 

Burkhalter said she was traumatized by the arrest where she was handcuffed In front of her eight-year-old and 10-year-old children, taken to jail, and forced to strip for a cavity search.

She said she also had a panic attack while in police custody and vomited.

‘It was the most humiliating day of my life,’ Burkhalter said Wednesday.

‘I even told them that I could not breathe before I finally got out,’ she added. 

She’s seeking more than $18million in damages citing assault and battery, false arrest, imprisonment, and emotional distress among other claims.

The suit requests $6million in compensatory damages and $12million in punitive damages for Burkhalter, as well as millions of additional dollars for her family, according to the July 29 complaint. 

The arrest was recorded on bodycam footage by Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

She was arrested for possession of hashish and trespassed from Disney property. Those charges were later dropped.

Burkhalter said she has arthritis and her doctor told her to try the oil because it would help. 

However, it is illegal to possess CBD oil in the state of Florida without a medical marijuana card.

Federally the oil, which is extracted from the flowers of marijuana plants but doesn’t produce a high, is legal.

When asked if her substance contained THC, Burkhalter said she did not know, although the bottle read 0 percent THC, according to the complaint. 

An Orange County deputy tested the bottle of her oil twice using a marijuana presumptive drug test kit and got a first negative result then a positive result for the presence of THC, according to CNN. 

Crump said they have asked Disney for an apology but it has not given. 

Disney is yet to respond to’s request for comment.

Crump said the Orange County Sheriff’s Office has been mostly silent except in trying to ‘defend their indefensible actions.’

‘Disney’s stated mission is to make everyone’s dreams come true. Instead, they turned a harmless grandmother’s expensive Disney vacation into a nightmare by treating her like a criminal with the full participation of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office,’ Crump said in a statement shared with 

‘We have given Disney and Orange County several chances to own their mistakes and make this right. The arrogance, complacency and lack of corporate responsibility demonstrated by these organizations demand correction and justice,’ he added.

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