A North Carolina woman's civil suit alleges "she was treated like a criminal." A Russian news agency is reporting that Brittney Griner has been arrested in Russia for possession of cannabis oil.
Woman Files Lawsuit After 2019 CBD Oil Arrest at Disney World
ORLANDO, Fla. — Civil rights attorney Ben Crump has filed a civil lawsuit against the Walt Disney Company on behalf of Hester Burkhalter, a North Carolina grandmother who was arrested at Magic Kingdom in April 2019 after security found CBD oil in her purse.
What You Need To Know
- North Carolina woman arrested last year at Disney World for CBD oil
- Hester Burkhalter’s attorneys have filed lawsuit against Disney
- Burkhalter is being represented by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump
- RELATED: Woman in Disney CBD Oil Arrest: Body-Cam Video Proves Wrongful Arrest
According to Crump, Burkhalter had the “CBD oil per her doctor’s recommendation to treat her advance arthritis.”
Burkhalter was arrested and charged with possession of hashish. The charges were later dropped.
“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 Wednesday about the lawsuit. “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.”
Crump told Spectrum News in April 2019 they were seeking a public apology from Walt Disney World.
Body camera footage released by Orange County Sheriff’s Office at the time shows deputies meeting with Burkhalter after being stopped by security officers at a checkpoint in front of Magic Kingdom.
In the footage, an Orange County deputy is heard saying, “If it doesn’t test positive for THC, then she can have it back.” Deputies tested her oil with a marijuana test kit.
“This does not contain THC,” the deputy is heard saying on the body camera footage. “This is not criminal. It is not criminal to have that.”
Despite finding the oil to be legal, deputies tested it again.
This is when Burkhalter attorney Michelle Rayner-Goolsby said they showed their true intentions.
“At that point that it did not come back positive for THC, you needed to allow her to go back into the park and enjoy this trip with her family,” Rayner-Goolsby said. “But for whatever reason, they were hell bent on arresting her, arresting somebody, that day.”
Two weeks after Burkhalter’s arrest, the Sheriff’s Office issued new guidance for deputies outlining the state’s law on CBD that said “…because of the confusion surrounding CBD, deputies are encouraged to consult on-call Narcotics or Legal prior to effectuating an arrest or seizing CBD.”
Spectrum News reached out to Disney and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office about the lawsuit, but as of Wednesday had not received a response.
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.