A Texan mother, Melinda Van Veldhuizen, has been banned for life from Carnival Cruise Line after attempting to board one of the company’s ships in Miami with a package of CBD sleep aid gummies.
The 42-year-old nurse practitioner, a mother of two from Dallas, expressed feeling mistreated, stating that she was treated “like a criminal” by both cruise employees and the police during a backpack search at PortMiami over the summer.
The CBD “sleep tight” gummies were discovered during the search, prompting Van Veldhuizen to be taken to a separate area for further interrogation by Carnival security and police, lasting two and a half hours.
She explained that she had packed the gummies to aid her sleep on a planned August trip with her family, intending to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary and her son’s senior year of high school.
Despite having a clean record, the mom, Melinda Van Veldhuizen, found herself barred from boarding the ship. Consequently, her husband and sons opted not to proceed with the planned cruise to Aruba, Curaçao, and the Dominican Republic without her. The family had invested approximately $5,586 in their vacation, as reported by Van Veldhuizen’s attorney, Daren Stabinski, to the Washington Post.
It’s worth noting that CBD, a compound commonly derived from hemp, does not induce impairment or a “high.” This sets it apart from marijuana, which contains THC, a mind-altering substance, according to information from the CDC.
CBD is legal in most of the country following Congress’s removal of hemp, defined as any part of the cannabis sativa plant with no greater than 0.3% THC, from its list of controlled substances.
Van Veldhuizen’s gummies reportedly contained less than 0.01% THC, according to WPLG. Despite the legal status of CBD, Carnival Cruise Lines prohibits the presence of hemp products.
“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,” its website states.
Following her exclusion from the prepaid cruise, Van Veldhuizen reportedly received a letter from Carnival, revealing a lifetime ban from all Carnival ships.
The correspondence, signed by Captain Rocco Lubrano, explicitly conveyed that she would “not be permitted to sail onboard any Carnival Cruise Lines vessel 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,” Lubrano wrote.
Having undertaken more than a dozen Carnival cruises over the years, Van Veldhuizen shared that she was deeply unsettled by the letter and the overall encounter.
“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,” Van Veldhuizen told the local news station.
She is currently pursuing an internal claim with Carnival but has indicated the possibility of legal action if her situation is not resolved “appropriately.” To assist her in this matter, she has enlisted the services of attorney Daren Stabinski, as reported by the Washington Post.
“Out of all the cases I take, this one was just specifically outrageous,” Stabinski said to WPLG.