Cruise Passenger Banned for Life Over CBD Gummies


A woman attempting to board a Carnival Cruise ship with her family back in August was detained for hours and ultimately banned from the cruise line for life after CBD gummies were discovered in her luggage. But after being out about $10 grand due to getting booted from the ship, she’s since lawyered up and wants to be reimbursed and see her ban overturned.

Dallas-based nurse practitioner and chiropractor Melinda Van Veldhuizen, 42, was taking the trip for both her 21st wedding anniversary and to celebrate her son starting his senior year of high school. She cruises frequently enough that she even has priority boarding, and initially didn’t think much after her luggage was flagged over the gummies, which she says she takes to help her sleep.

“I have trouble sleeping, so it was just to make sure I could sleep on the trip,” she later told Miami’s Local 10 News. “I’ve always traveled with them, no problem.”

“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 explained. 

But instead, she was held for two-and-a-half hours unsure of what was going to happen. “The way that they treated me was like a criminal,” she said.

“The captain asked me several times if I had a marijuana card or if I had a diagnosis, if I needed it, she added. “I said, ‘It’s CBD; that doesn’t exist. It’s just not a thing.'”

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in marijuana that does not contain THC or produce a “high.” In addition to using it as a sleep aid, people take it for everything from chronic pain management to anxiety.

Eventually, Van Veldhuizen was told that she would be prohibited from boarding. Although the cruise line later offered to reimburse her cruise fare and booked excursions, her husband and two sons refused to embark without her, so the entire trip was a wash. But then to add insult to financial injury, she received a letter when she arrived home that stated she was banned for life.

“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,” read the letter, which was signed by Capt. Rocco Lubrano. “Your attempt to book a future cruise will result in cancellation and a possible loss of depot monies.

For what it’s worth, Carnival does specify on its website that all medical marijuana and CBD products fall within its list of prohibited items. “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 website states.

Be that as it may, Van Veldhuizen and her attorney, Daren Stabinski believes that the punishment far outweighs the crime in this instance.

“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,” Stabinski said. “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.”

Stabinsky hopes to secure a full refund and compensation for his client as well as challenge the ban. They’re giving Carnival a chance to remedy the incident before taking further action.

Though, given a statement on behalf of the cruise line, it seems likely that the dispute will play out in court.

“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,” said a spokesperson for Carnival. “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.”

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