Mom hit with lifetime ban after cruise staff found CBD 'sleep tight' gummies in her luggage

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By stefan armitage

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A 42-year-old Texas mother and nurse practitioner has been banned for life from Carnival Cruise Line.

Melinda Van Veldhuizen received her lifetime ban from the cruise line after attempting to board a Carnival ship with a pack of CBD sleep aid gummies, as reported by Miami's ABC News affiliate WPLG.

Van Veldhuizen's ordeal began when cruise employees, during a routine search, discovered the CBD “sleep tight” gummies in her backpack. What was meant to be a celebratory family cruise marking her 21st wedding anniversary and her son’s senior year of high school, quickly turned into a distressing situation.

The Dallas-based mother - who says she has never even received a parking ticket - recounted being interrogated for two and a half hours by Carnival security and police.

"The captain asked me several times if I had a marijuana card or if I had a diagnosis, if I needed it," the mom revealed. "I said, ‘It’s CBD; that doesn’t exist. It’s just not a thing.’"

Despite her explanation, Van Veldhuizen was denied boarding, leading her husband and sons to abandon their cruise plans.

She later described the experience as "traumatizing".

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Van Veldhuizen has been banned from the cruise line. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Getty

Following the incident, Van Veldhuizen received a letter from Captain Rocco Lubrano of Carnival, permanently barring her from all Carnival cruises. The letter cited her actions as a violation of ship rules and a disruption to the safety and enjoyment of other guests.

The family's dream vacation, which cost them around $5,586, came to an abrupt end before it could even start. Van Veldhuizen's attorney, Daren Stabinski, told the Washington Post that his client was initially told she would be responsible for her cruise fare and the cost of the trip for her husband and two teenage sons.

But even after Carnival offered to reimburse the mom her $1,665 cruise fare, Stabinski said this isn’t enough and is seeking to have the family's full fees returned, as well as her ban overturned.

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is derived from hemp and is not known for not causing impairment. It is perfectly legal in most of the United States, the NY Post reports. Van Veldhuizen's gummies reportedly contained less than 0.01% THC, well within legal limits. However, Carnival Cruise Lines maintains a strict policy against such hemp products, a stance clearly stated on their website.

"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 company's website states.

Van Veldhuizen has enjoyed more than a dozen Carnival cruises in the past, expressed her shock and dismay over the incident and the subsequent ban. "The way that they treated me was like a criminal," she told WPLG.

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Credit: medterracbd.com

She compared her experience to a minor TSA infraction, adding: "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."

Seeking justice, Van Veldhuizen is currently pursuing an internal claim with Carnival. She has also threatened legal action if her case isn’t resolved "appropriately". Her attorney, Stabinski, told WPLG: "Out of all the cases I take, this one was just 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,” the lawyer added. "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."

Carnival Cruise Line issued the following statement on the matter: "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.

"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."

Toxicologist Alberto Augsten told WPLG that "as it is written, CBD, correctly manufactured and obtained, is not derived from marijuana [...] It is derived from the hemp component of the plant."

However, The Washington Post adds that CBD-infused candies are still technically considered illegal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, overseen by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Van Veldhuizen's experience should serve as a cautionary tale about the complexities of navigating legal and corporate rules, especially when dealing with popular health and wellness products like CBD - and a reminder to always check the guidelines of your travel service.

Featured image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty

Mom hit with lifetime ban after cruise staff found CBD 'sleep tight' gummies in her luggage

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

A 42-year-old Texas mother and nurse practitioner has been banned for life from Carnival Cruise Line.

Melinda Van Veldhuizen received her lifetime ban from the cruise line after attempting to board a Carnival ship with a pack of CBD sleep aid gummies, as reported by Miami's ABC News affiliate WPLG.

Van Veldhuizen's ordeal began when cruise employees, during a routine search, discovered the CBD “sleep tight” gummies in her backpack. What was meant to be a celebratory family cruise marking her 21st wedding anniversary and her son’s senior year of high school, quickly turned into a distressing situation.

The Dallas-based mother - who says she has never even received a parking ticket - recounted being interrogated for two and a half hours by Carnival security and police.

"The captain asked me several times if I had a marijuana card or if I had a diagnosis, if I needed it," the mom revealed. "I said, ‘It’s CBD; that doesn’t exist. It’s just not a thing.’"

Despite her explanation, Van Veldhuizen was denied boarding, leading her husband and sons to abandon their cruise plans.

She later described the experience as "traumatizing".

size-full wp-image-1263237264
Van Veldhuizen has been banned from the cruise line. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Getty

Following the incident, Van Veldhuizen received a letter from Captain Rocco Lubrano of Carnival, permanently barring her from all Carnival cruises. The letter cited her actions as a violation of ship rules and a disruption to the safety and enjoyment of other guests.

The family's dream vacation, which cost them around $5,586, came to an abrupt end before it could even start. Van Veldhuizen's attorney, Daren Stabinski, told the Washington Post that his client was initially told she would be responsible for her cruise fare and the cost of the trip for her husband and two teenage sons.

But even after Carnival offered to reimburse the mom her $1,665 cruise fare, Stabinski said this isn’t enough and is seeking to have the family's full fees returned, as well as her ban overturned.

CBD (short for cannabidiol) is derived from hemp and is not known for not causing impairment. It is perfectly legal in most of the United States, the NY Post reports. Van Veldhuizen's gummies reportedly contained less than 0.01% THC, well within legal limits. However, Carnival Cruise Lines maintains a strict policy against such hemp products, a stance clearly stated on their website.

"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 company's website states.

Van Veldhuizen has enjoyed more than a dozen Carnival cruises in the past, expressed her shock and dismay over the incident and the subsequent ban. "The way that they treated me was like a criminal," she told WPLG.

size-large wp-image-1263237265
Credit: medterracbd.com

She compared her experience to a minor TSA infraction, adding: "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."

Seeking justice, Van Veldhuizen is currently pursuing an internal claim with Carnival. She has also threatened legal action if her case isn’t resolved "appropriately". Her attorney, Stabinski, told WPLG: "Out of all the cases I take, this one was just 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,” the lawyer added. "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."

Carnival Cruise Line issued the following statement on the matter: "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.

"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."

Toxicologist Alberto Augsten told WPLG that "as it is written, CBD, correctly manufactured and obtained, is not derived from marijuana [...] It is derived from the hemp component of the plant."

However, The Washington Post adds that CBD-infused candies are still technically considered illegal under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, overseen by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Van Veldhuizen's experience should serve as a cautionary tale about the complexities of navigating legal and corporate rules, especially when dealing with popular health and wellness products like CBD - and a reminder to always check the guidelines of your travel service.

Featured image credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty