Melinda Van Veldhuizen, a 42-year-old nurse and chiropractor from Dallas, told The Washington Post that she was stopped by security before a cruise on the Carnival Horizon because an X-ray scan revealed metal nail clippers in her suitcase. During a search of the bag, security officers found a pack of CBD gum she had purchased from a pharmacy in Texas. She said the gums were sealed and advertised to help with sleep problems.
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Van Veldhuizen said security and other crew staff waited for her in the boarding area of the terminal, away from her family, for about three and a half hours. During that time, she said security measured the gums and asked if she had permission to possess them. She was eventually told that she would not be allowed on the cruise.
Carnival Cruise Line sent Van Veldhuizen a letter in August informing her that she would be banned from all carriers, and any attempt to book a future cruise would be cancelled.
This decision was based on your actions on the current cruise that violated the rules of the ship, interfered with the safety and/or enjoyment of other guests on the ship, or caused damage to Carnival, Carnival Horizon Captain Rocco Lubrano wrote in the letter. reviewed by the Washington Post.
The Van Veldhuizes ban was first reported by ABC Miami affiliate WPLG.
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Van Veldhuizen said she was initially told she would be responsible for her cruise ticket and travel expenses for her husband and two teenage sons, who would be making the cruise without her. That amounts to roughly $5,586, according to Darren Stabinski, her South Florida-based attorney. She also had nearly $700 charged to her credit card after the cruise sailed.
I was … freaked out because I don’t even have a parking ticket, like, I follow the rules, she said.
Carnival eventually sent a follow-up letter offering to reimburse her for the $1,665 cruise fare. But Stabinski said this is not enough. Van Veldhuizen hopes to be reimbursed for the entire family’s ticket. She also hopes to see her ban lifted.
Stabinski said his office is pursuing an internal inquiry with Carnival, but Van Veldhuizen will seek 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.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a compound found in marijuana and can be obtained from hemp or non-hemp plants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hemp would be considered any part of the cannabis sativa plant that has less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that produces a high.
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The unpredictability of the 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 cannabis. CBD candies are still considered illegal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, overseen by the US Food and Drug Administration.
It is currently illegal to sell CBD by adding it to food or labeling it as a dietary supplement, according to an FDA explainer.
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Because the FDA does not regulate over-the-counter CBD products, those products may contain higher levels of THC than advertised.
Stabinski said that in this case, the CBD gummies are derived from hemp and are not advertised as having THC.
They shouldn’t be treating people like criminals for this, Stabinski told Carnival Cruise Line.
We are not here to determine where our guests purchase CBD or what they intend to use once on board, Carnival Cruise Line spokesman Matt Lupoli wrote in an email to The Post. It is our responsibility to follow federal guidelines and stop carrying prohibited items on our ships.
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Cruise lines continue to follow federal law, which prohibits possession of marijuana, regardless of states that have legalized recreational or medical use, including Florida.
Disney Cruise Line, which also bans marijuana, cannabis and hemp products, as well as THC and CBD products, also stipulates in its guidelines that it complies with federal regulations and local laws throughout the destinations it visits.
Van Veldhuizen said she has taken more than a dozen Carnival cruises over the years with her husband and two sons. She usually plans an annual trip that includes airfare and other travel expenses.
For their August excursion, which stopped through Aruba, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic, Van Veldhuizen planned to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary with her husband and her sons last year in high school. Her birthday was also a few weeks away.
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