Melinda Erin Van Veldhuizen, 42, was all set to go aboard a Carnival cruise with her family from Port Miami in Florida in August when their holiday came to a very abrupt end.
The family was about to embark on a trip to Aruba, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic to celebrate her and her husband’s 21st wedding anniversary and her son’s senior year of high school, reports WPLG.
Yet just as they were about to start their vacation, the mother-of-two pulled to one side by a terminal worker who questioned the CBD gummies in her bag.
She was allegedly interrogated by Carnival security and police for two and a half hours, according to the outlet, over what they believed was an illegal controlled substance.
Ms Van Veldhuizen tried to explain that the gummies contained next to zero THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana that produces a high. CBD is the other main compound in marijuana that does not cause a high, according to the Centres for Dease Control and Prevention.
In the majority of states across the US, CBD is legal as long as there is no greater than 0.3 per cent of THC in the substance; Ms Van Veldhuizen’s gummies contained less than 0.01 per cent, she said.
The gummies she had travelled with numerous times were used to help her sleep, she said.
“The captain asked me several times if I had a marijuana card or if I had a diagnosis if I needed it,” Ms Van Veldhuizen said.
“I said, ‘It’s CBD; that doesn’t exist. It’s just not a thing.’”
In some states, the CBD has to be used for medicinal reasons, and the laws may change once cruises reach ports in other countries.
However, Carnival Cruise Line states on their website that CBD is not prohibited on their ships.
“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,” their website says.
While Ms Van Veldhuizen missed this rule, she thought it would not stop her from enjoying the rest of her vacation; instead, she was escorted off the cruise.
“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,” Ms Van Veldhuizen told WPLG.
The family had spent roughly $5,586 on their holiday, but if that was not a hard enough blow, the Texas mother later received a letter in the post explaining she had been banned from all Carnival Cruise ships for life, reports the Washington Post.
“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,” the letter read according to WLPG.
Ms Van Veldhuizen hired Daren Stabinski, an attorney, to help her take legal action for the financial losses she acquired due to the incident.
The attorney told the outlet that the woman was held under “false imprisonment” while she was being interrogated over her sleep gummies.
Ms Stabinski also criticised the cruise company’s decision to ban the mother, who has been on many cruises for a lifetime.
"To me, it seems like an extreme measure," the attorney told Fox35.
"The conditions of carriage specifically say that marijuana, marijuana derivatives, or controlled substances are illegal and are not allowed on the ship. What she had was none of those things."
Yet, in a statement to WPLG, a spokesperson from Carnival Cruises said that they were “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,” they added.
The Independent has contacted Carnival Cruise Line for further comment.
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