Texas Woman Receives Lifetime Ban for Bringing CBD Sleep Gummies on Carnival Cruise Line
Going on a cruise is intended to be a break from reality, and a place where you vacation your way, whether that means being active and going on excursions in foreign destinations or sleeping in and relaxing on the deck. However, one individual recently received a lifetime ban for attempting to bring CBD gummies on board.
According to Local10 News, Texan Melinda Van Veldhuizen has gone on many cruises in the past—and the frequency has earned her priority boarding.
Her most recent trip was meant to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary with her husband, as well as her son’s senior year of high school by traveling to Aruba, Curaçao, and the Dominican Republic. During boarding on the Carnival Cruise Ship Horizon at the Port of Miami, Florida, which was set to visit she was pulled aside when a security officer found CBD gummies in her bag. “I have trouble sleeping, so it was just to make sure I could sleep on the trip—so if there were any issues, I could sleep,” Van Veldhuizen said. “I’ve always traveled with them, no problem.”
Van Veldhuizen explained that she was taken away from her family to a separate area where was interrogated by both ship security and law enforcement. “I sat there for two-and-a-half hours, really not sure what was going to happen,” she said. “The way that they treated me was like a criminal.”
At first she thought it was a mistake for something else often prohibited on the ship when boarding. “I thought it was one of those situations where you’re like, ‘Oh shoot, I left a bottle of water in my backpack; you gotta throw it away,’ kind of thing like that happens at TSA,” she said.
CBD has been legal in the U.S. since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, and can be sold in any state as long as it contains 0.3% THC or less. Van Veldhuizen’s CBD gummies contained 0.01% THC.
The problem lies with the cruise line—in fact all major cruise lines—which do not permit CBD on board due to federal restrictions.
According to Van Veldhuizen, even the captain questioned her during the incident. “The captain asked me several times if I had a marijuana card or if I had a diagnosis, if I needed it,” she said. “I said, ‘It’s CBD; that doesn’t exist. It’s just not a thing.’”
She and her family did not continue their vacation and were sent a letter from Carnival on Aug. 5 stating that Van Veldhuizen was banned from ever cruising with Carnival in the future. “This decision was based on your actions on the current cruise, which were a violation of the ship rules, interfered with the safety and/or enjoyment of other guests on the ship or caused harm to Carnival,” the letter stated, which was signed by Horizon Captain Rocco Lubrano and two witnesses. “Your attempt to book a future cruise will result in cancellation and a possible loss of deposit monies.”
Local10 News shared a statement obtained from Carnival regarding the incident. “We are very sorry this guest and her family are unhappy with the outcome of their vacation plans, but we are following federal law under which CBD is defined as a controlled substance,” the statement said. “We are not here to ascertain where our guests purchase CBD or what they intend to use it for once on board. Our responsibility is to follow federal guidelines and stop prohibited items from being brought on board our ships.”
Carnival Cruise Line does state that cannabis and CBD are clearly prohibited on its website. “Any illegal narcotics/drugs including synthetic, designer drugs, Cannabidiol (CBD) and medical marijuana. While certain CBD products used for medicinal purposes may be legal in the US, they are not legal in all the ports we visit and therefore are also considered prohibited items,” the cruise line states.
The cruise line also did not refund Van Veldhuizen for the cost of the trip, which included $5,586 and an additional $700 that was charged to her credit card after the ship left the port. According to a report by The Washington Post, the cruise line eventually offered to reimburse her for $1,665 of the trip cost. So Van Veldhuizen hired an attorney both to get her full fare refunded, and also to get her ban lifted.
Attorney Daren Stabinski, a Florida-based attorney representing Van Veldhuizen, explained that while the ship has its rules, the case was “specifically outrageous.” “We believe it was false imprisonment what they did to her. They had no right to hold her, especially when she did nothing wrong in the first place,” Stabinski said. “CBD is not marijuana. When you look at the specific rules and conditions that you agree to when you sail, it specifically says marijuana, marijuana derivatives and all illegally-controlled substances are prohibited, and what my client had was none of those things.”
Royal Caribbean cruise line, which owns some of the largest ships in the world, notes in its FAQ that “illegal drugs & substances” and “CBD oil/CBD products” are prohibited from being brought on board.
Disney Cruise Line shows “marijuana and illicit drug policy” on its restricted item list as well. “Additionally, all drug paraphernalia used for marijuana, cannabis and hemp is prohibited. Medically prescribed marijuana, as well as items derived from or enriched by marijuana, including items and products that contain THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) and or CBD (Cannabidiol) are also prohibited.”
Likewise, Norwegian Cruise Line also prohibits cannabis and CBD in any form.
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