Police released body camera footage of a 69-year-old woman being arrested at a Florida amusement park for possessing CBD oil without a state medical cannabis card on Tuesday.
Hester Burkhalter, a grandmother who suffers from arthritis, was arrested after an off duty sheriff’s deputy discovered the oil in her purse at a checkpoint at Disney’s Magic Kingdom last month in a case that made headlines around the world.
The newly released video shows Burkhalter being handcuffed and placed in the back of a patrol car, where she began to feel claustrophobic and said, “I can’t breathe. I feel like I’m going to pass out.” One deputy said that she threw up, according to News 6.
Burkhalter, who says her doctor in Tennessee recommended CBD, later spent 12 hours in custody and was released on a $2,000 bond.
Burkhalter requested to be transported to the jail alone, as opposed to being transported along with another individual who was arrested for possession of a cannabis vaporizer, and a deputy made a call to accommodate her. She was allowed to be taken to the facility in the front seat of a separate patrol car.
“The older female said she gets claustrophobic, and feels like she’s going to pass out, and wants somebody else so she can go by herself,” the deputy said on a call.
Once she was in the front seat with air conditioning on, she said she felt better and thanked the deputy.
“I couldn’t breathe back there,” she reiterated.
When the arrest was first reported, reform advocates condemned the park and sheriff’s department for subjecting an older woman to an arrest on a family vacation for simple possession of a non-intoxicating compound that is known to treat pain and inflammation.
CBD is legal for medical purposes in Florida, but individuals must be registered to possess medical cannabis in the state. Hemp-derived CBD was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet developed regulatory guidelines allowing for its lawful marketing as a food item or supplement.
Prosecutors dropped the charges against Burkhalter earlier this month, finding her case unsuitable for prosecution. She’s since announced plans to file a lawsuit against Disney and the sheriff’s department.
“Horrific treatment that they placed upon this church-going, law-abiding grandmother,” her lawyer said at a press conference.
In a similarly confounding recent case, a 72-year-old woman was arrested at a Texas airport after security discovered CBD oil. She was charged with a felony that carried a maximum sentence of 20 years, and she stayed in custody for two days.
“To be honest, I did not even think about the possibility of my CBD being illegal or being challenged,” Lena Bartula, who was going to visit family in Oregon, said. “It is such an integral part of my wellness that it got thrown into my bag along with Vitamin C and oregano oil.”
“Had I thought about it, I would have remembered that I could buy it in Portland,” she said.
The charges in that case were also dropped about two months after the arrest.
In other recent cannabis enforcement action called out as excessive by reform advocates, Missouri police officers searched through the belongings of a man with stage-four pancreatic cancer in March after a security guarded reported the smell of marijuana.
The officers found nothing, but video of the search sparked public outrage over the harassing behavior of the officers toward a sick man who said he does benefit from medical cannabis.
Photo courtesy of YouTube.
Killer Mike Explains Why Rappers Deserve More Credit For Marijuana Legalization
Rapper and social justice advocate Killer Mike said on Monday that it’s important for Americans to recognize that rap artists helped pave the path to marijuana reform in a way that isn’t often discussed in the media.
Speaking at a panel on freedom of speech, Mike pointed to societal double standards when it comes to different musical genres such as rap and country. And he emphasized the importance of ensuring that free speech is protected for artists whose music might be controversial but whose contributions can have significant policy implications.
Cannabis has been featured prominently in rap music, and Mike said that’s often overlooked when people talk about how marijuana reform entered the mainstream.
“We know that with national decriminalization of marijuana now, a lot of people are going to get credit for it—a lot of activists, a lot of workers,” he said. “But I can show you a line that leads straight back to Cyprus Hill, that leads straight back to Snoop Dogg, that leads straight back to people like Rick James.”
“If it’s not duly acknowledged publicly—if the media isn’t pushing the line of that narrative, if the media isn’t giving us that freedom, if the media treats rappers differently than they do country artists—then you’re going to see a galvanization of what the prejudices that we already see” in terms of racial discrimination, he said.
Mike, along with artists including Chance the Rapper and Meek Mill, made a similar point in a brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in March, defending another artist who was convicted because a song of his was interpreted as a threat against Pittsburgh police officers.
In that brief, the coalition explained that war on drugs fueled protest art that gave a voice to those disproportionately impacted by aggressive, anti-drug enforcement efforts and shed light on how the drug war impacted disadvantaged communities across the country.
It should be noted, however, that while Mike sees a straight line between cannabis reform and Cyprus Hill, that specific line isn’t so cut and dry.
Cypress Hill member B-Real campaigned against California’s marijuana legalization measure in 2016, citing concerns with how it was specifically drafted, only to open up a dispensary himself two years after it passed. If he’d gotten his way, the nation’s most populous state would have continued prohibiting cannabis for several more years and the measure’s defeat—in California of all places—could have had devastating implications for the legalization movement in Congress and around the country.
Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.
Americans Want CBD Available Over-The-Counter, Poll Finds
A majority of Americans familiar with cannabidiol (CBD) say it should be available as an over-the-counter drug and that the compound has multiple health benefits, according to a Gallup survey released on Friday.
The CBD craze emerged from the marijuana reform movement and escalated following the passage of the 2018 farm bill, which federally legalized hemp and its derivatives including CBD. The survey, which involved 1,017 phone interviews conducted from May 15-30, offers some insight into the substance’s widespread appeal.
Thirty-nine percent of Americans overall said that people should be able to access CBD as an over-the-counter drug, with 21 percent saying a prescription should be required. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they weren’t familiar with the non-intoxicating compound.
But when Gallup asked people who said they were familiar with CBD the same question, 61 percent said that CBD should be over-the counter and 33 percent said it should be available for those with a prescription.
Participants were also asked to rate their familiarity with CBD. Fourteen percent said they were “very familiar,” 33 percent said they were “somewhat familiar,” 17 percent said they were “not too familiar” and 36 percent said they were “not familiar at all.”
Again zeroing in on those who said they were familiar with CBD, Gallup asked what they thought about its therapeutic value.
Nine-out-of-ten respondents agreed that CBD does have health benefits. Breaking that down, 33 percent said it has “a lot of benefits,” 45 percent said it has “some benefits” and 14 percent said it has “only a few benefits.” Only four percent said it has “no benefits” and three percent didn’t have an opinion.
“The CBD-oil arena is extremely active right now, including medical research into its benefits, state legislation governing its sale, federal legislation encouraging its production and corporate investment growing in the business,” Gallup wrote. “Although medical research has a long way to go to investigate all of the claims made about CBD, half of Americans already believe it has at least some medical value, and that percentage is likely to grow as more become familiar with the product.”
The commercial interest in CBD is explosive, with lawmakers and industry stakeholders putting pressure on federal agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to streamline the regulatory process to provide for the compound’s lawful marketing in the food supply and as health supplements.
But even as the government develops those regulations, companies are wasting no time, flouting the FDA and putting CBD in everything from pricey lattes to Carl’s Jr. burgers. At the same time, CBD’s medical value has been strongly established; the FDA approved a CBD drug last year for the treatment of certain forms of epilepsy.
Gallup also released a separate survey on Thursday that explored the various reasons Americans support or opposed broader marijuana legalization.
Photo courtesy of Kimzy Nanney/Unsplash.
Oakland Marijuana Shop Flooded With Questions About Psilocybin Mushrooms After Decriminalization Vote
A vote to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms and other psychedelics in Oakland has left some residents confused about whether the substances have become commercially available.
Debby Goldsberry, CEO of Magnolia Wellness, told Marijuana Moment that her licensed marijuana shop has been “receiving calls from our members and interested community members, wondering if the dispensary was or would carry these products.”
While the City Council voted unanimously last week in favor of a resolution that bars the use of “any city funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of laws imposing criminal penalties” against adults who using and possessing the plants and fungi, the measure specifically does not allow for their legal sale.
“Selling mushrooms would violate both our local and state licenses, and it would put us squarely in the crossfire of federal laws that treat these plant medicines as felonies,” Goldsberry said. “Magnolia Wellness, while appreciating their medicinal value, would never put our company, our member base or those in the community who depend on us for support at risk in order to provide medicinal mushrooms.”
Further, the shop’s staff doesn’t “have the experience of expertise to advise people on the use of psychedelic plant medicines,” she said.
Confusion over the distinction between decriminalization and commercial legalization isn’t confined to Oakland, or psychedelics laws for that matter.
A separate successful campaign to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms in Denver last month was complicated by voters conflating the policy change with broader legalization. Kevin Matthews, campaign director of Decriminalize Denver, made education about the difference between the two policy reforms a cornerstone of the group’s outreach efforts.
“We spent a lot of time talking to people on the ground and letting them know that in terms of decriminalization, this is the kind of thing that’s simply going to keep people out of jail for using substances,” Matthews told Marijuana Moment. “I think it’s one thing we did a decent thing of was really letting people that you can’t go buy this at a dispensary.”
But whereas Decriminalize Denver spent months educating the public about their proposal as they collected signatures to place the measure on the ballot, the Oakland resolution was introduced and voted on in relatively short order.
That, Matthews said, likely contributed to misunderstandings about the policy implications. Another factor may be that the resolution’s sponsor in Oakland indicated just before the vote that legalization and regulated sales could follow.
“Now we have to agree on what’s being regulated and identify a pathway for distribution and sales,” Councilmember Noel Gallo told Marijuana Moment on the day his measure was approved. “Like with marijuana, we have to establish a process.”
But that plan may run up against resistance, including from reform-minded allies.
“I think that in terms of Oakland, it’s up to them to make it very clear that people can’t go buy this right now,” Matthews said. “And I don’t think anyone should be able to in a recreational setting like that.”
“I think it’s important for people to keep in mind that this is a people-powered movement, not a profit-powered movement. We have some time before we should even start considering any kind of recreational sales,” he said. “That could derail the whole damn movement.”
Decriminalize Nature, the campaign behind Oakland’s decriminalization victory, told Marijuana Moment that it does not support commercializing the plant-and fungi-based substances.
As an amendment attached to the resolution itself states, the measure “does not authorize or enable any of the following activities: commercial sale or manufacturing of these plants and fungi.”
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia/Mädi.