Melinda Van Veldhuizen, a 42-year-old nurse practitioner and chiropractor from Dallas, told The Washington Post that she was stopped by security before a cruise on the Horizon Carnival because an X-ray scan detected metal nail clippers in his suitcase During a bag search, security workers found a package of CBD gummies that he had purchased from a pharmacy in Texas. She said the gummies were sealed and advertised to help with sleep problems.
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Van Veldhuizen said security and other crew waited for him in a boarding terminal area away from his family for about three and a half hours. During that time, he said security weighed the gummies and asked if he had a license to possess them. She was eventually told that she would not be allowed on the cruise.
Carnival Cruise Line sent a letter to Van Veldhuizen in August informing her that she would be banned from all of the carrier’s ships, and any attempt to book a future cruise would be cancelled.
“This decision was based on your actions on the current cruise, which were a violation of the rules of the ship, interfered with the safety and/or enjoyment of other guests on the ship or caused damage to Carnival,” wrote Captain Rocco Lubrano of Carnival Horizon. 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 cruise fare and the cost of travel for her husband and two teenage sons, who were taking the cruise without her. According to Daren Stabinski, his attorney based in South Florida, that amounts to about $5,586. There was still almost $700 owed on his credit card after the cruise had sailed.
“I was … freaking out because I didn’t even have a parking ticket, like, I followed the rules,” he said.
Carnival eventually sent a follow-up letter offering to refund her $1,665 cruise fare. But Stabinski said this is not enough. Van Veldhuizen hopes to be reimbursed for his family’s entire fee. She also hopes to see her ban lifted.
Stabinski said his office is pursuing an internal complaint with Carnival, but Van Veldhuizen will seek a lawsuit if it is not handled “appropriately.”
“This has been emotional 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 derived 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 contains 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 either hemp or cannabis. CBD-infused 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 market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement,” according to an FDA spokesperson.
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Because the FDA does not regulate CBD products for sale, these products may contain higher levels of THC than advertised.
Stabinski said in this case, the CBD gummies are derived from hemp and are not advertised as THC.
“They shouldn’t be treating people like criminals for this,” Stabinski said of 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. “Our responsibility is to follow federal guidelines and prevent prohibited items from being brought aboard our ships.”
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Cruise lines continue to follow federal law, which prohibits the possession of marijuana, regardless of states that have legalized recreational or medical use, including Florida.
Disney Cruise Line, which also prohibits 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 in all destinations it visits.
Van Veldhuizen said she took more than a dozen Carnival cruises a year with her husband and two children. I usually plan an annual trip that includes airfare and other travel expenses.
For her August excursion, which stopped for Aruba, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic, Van Veldhuizen planned to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary with her husband and her son’s last year in high school. His birthday was still a few weeks away.
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