Melinda Van Veldhuizen, a 42-year-old nurse and chiropractor from Dallas, told The Washington Post that she was stopped by security before a trip on the Carnival Horizon because an X-ray scan found metal nail clippers in her suitcase. During a bag search, security officers found a packet of CBD gum in his possession purchased from pharmacies in Texas. He said the gums were sealed and advertised for sleep problems.
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Van Veldhuizen said security and other staff waited for him in the boarding terminal area, away from his family, for about three and a half hours. During that time, he said security officers weighed the gummies and asked if he had a license to possess them. He was eventually told that he would not be allowed to go on the cruise.
Carnival Cruise Line sent a letter to Van Veldhuizen in August informing him that he would be banned from all of the carrier’s ships and any attempt to book a future cruise would be cancelled.
“This decision is based on your actions during the current cruise that violated the ship’s rules, interfered with the safety and/or enjoyment of other guests on the ship, or caused damage to Carnival,” Carnival Horizon Captain Rocco Lubrano wrote. a letter reviewed by The Washington Post.
Van Veldhuizen’s ban was first reported by Miami ABC affiliate WPLG.
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Van Veldhuizen said she was initially told she would be responsible for her own cruise fare and travel expenses for her husband and two teenage sons, who would be sailing without her. According to Darren Stabinski, his attorney in South Florida, it is approximately $5,586. Also, his credit card was charged about $700 after the cruise left.
“I was … angry because I don’t even have a parking ticket, like, I follow the rules,” he said.
Carnival eventually sent a follow-up letter offering to refund her cruise fare of $1,665. But Stabinski said that’s not enough. Van Veldhuizen hopes to recoup the fare for his entire family. He also hopes to see his ban lifted.
Stabinski said his office is pursuing an internal claim with Carnival, but Van Veldhuizen will file a lawsuit if it is not “properly” resolved.
“This has been emotionally draining and embarrassing for my client, and we just want Carnival to do the right thing,” Stabinski said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a compound found in marijuana and can be derived from “cannabis or non-cannabis plants.” Hemp is any part of the hemp sativa plant that contains less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component that produces a high.
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The unpredictability of compounds found in CBD products makes it more difficult and confusing to regulate. Although Congress legalized hemp products in the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD can be derived from both hemp and hemp. CBD-infused candies are still considered illegal under the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which is overseen by the US Food and Drug Administration.
“It is currently illegal to market CBD as added to food or labeled as a dietary supplement,” an FDA spokesperson said.
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Because the FDA does not regulate over-the-counter CBD products, these products may contain higher levels of THC than advertised.
Stabinski said the CBD gummies in this case are derived from hemp and are not advertised as containing any THC.
“They shouldn’t be treating people like criminals,” Stabinski said of Carnival Cruise Line.
“We’re not here to find out where our guests go to the CBD or what they intend to use it for once onboard,” Carnival Cruise Line spokesman Matt Lupoli wrote in an email to The Post. “It is our responsibility to follow federal guidelines and stop the importation of prohibited items onto our ships.”
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Cruise lines continue to follow federal law that prohibits possession of marijuana, regardless of states that have legalized recreational or medical use, including Florida.
Disney Cruise Line, which also prohibits marijuana, hemp and hemp products, as well as THC and CBD products, also states in its guidelines that it complies with federal regulations and local laws in the destinations they visit.
Van Veldhuizen says she has taken more than a dozen Carnival cruises with her husband and two sons over the years. He usually plans an annual trip that includes airfare and other travel expenses.
For their August excursion, which stopped in Aruba, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic, Van Veldhuizen planned to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary with her husband and son in his senior year of high school. His birthday was also a few weeks away.
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