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Carnival bans cruise passenger for life after finding CBD gummies in luggage

Carnival Cruise Line banned a passenger for life after finding CBD gummies in her suitcase.

Melinda Van Veldhuizen, 42, was stopped by security before boarding the Carnival Horizon ship in Miami for an August cruise, her attorney Daren Stabinski told USA TODAY. The Dallas-based nurse practitioner and chiropractor said she was initially flagged after an X-ray found metal nail clippers in her luggage, but security later detected a sealed pack of the gummies.

“I was ... freaking out because I don’t even have a parking ticket, like, I follow the rules,” she told The Washington Post. Van Veldhuizen did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for an interview.

Miami-based news outlet WPLG first reported the news.

Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Horizon cruise ship.
Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Horizon cruise ship.

The traveler, who had sailed with Carnival in the past, said she was detained for hours and denied boarding. Van Veldhuizen later received a letter notifying her she’d been banned from future cruises with the line.

"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 signed by Capt. Rocco Lubrano said, which Stabinski shared with USA TODAY.

She was also told she still had to pay her nearly $1,700 cruise fare and for her two sons and husband, who were set to sail with her (though the line later offered to refund her portion and the cost of booked excursions).

Stabinsky said she aims to secure a full refund and compensation and challenge the ban. They have put the cruise line on notice, giving them an opportunity to respond before taking further steps. Carnival declined USA TODAY’s request for comment.

Carnival does not allow CBD on its 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,” the line’s website reads.

What is CBD?

CBD – which stands for cannabidiol – is a compound found in cannabis.

CBD itself does not cause a high and can come from both hemp and non-hemp plants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Hemp is defined as any part of the cannabis sativa plant with no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mind-altering substance in marijuana,” the CDC’s website reads.

CBD is used in lotions, food and other products. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 “removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing CBD if it comes from hemp,” the CDC said. However, the legal status of CBD products differs by state.

Why do cruise lines ban passengers?

Passengers typically get banned for life “in response to extreme violations of a cruise line's rules,” Stewart Chiron, a cruise industry expert known as The Cruise Guy, told USA TODAY in an email. However, he said those instances are “extraordinarily rare.”

These items are banned on cruises: Read this before you pack.

Carnival reportedly banned at least two passengers after they were caught fishing from a cabin balcony, with video footage circulating earlier this year. Royal Caribbean International also banned a guest and her companion after she stood on her stateroom balcony’s railing to pose for a photo in 2019.

Chiron noted that cruise lines post details about what items are prohibited on their websites. “If people can't conform to the posted rules, the cruise may not be (the) best option for them,” he said.

Nathan Diller is a consumer travel reporter for USA TODAY based in Nashville, Tennessee. You can reach him at ndiller@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Carnival passenger banned for life over CBD gummies in bag