A Texas woman has been banned from Carnival Cruise Line -- for life -- after she attempted to board a ship with CBD gummies in her luggage.
Melinda Van Veldhuizen, 42, was planning to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary during a trip to the Caribbean on Carnival's Horizon cruise ship in August, but she never made it onboard.
Van Veldhuizen told told WPLG her family was preparing to start their vacation at PortMiami when a Carnival security guard was checking her luggage and found the gummies in her bag.
"I have trouble sleeping, so it was just to make sure I could sleep on the trip -- so if there were any issues, I could sleep," Van Veldhuizen said. "I've always traveled with them, no problem."
Van Veldhuizen said she thought it would be like a situation with TSA at the airport "where you're like, 'Oh shoot, I left a bottle of water in my backpack; you gotta throw it away,' kind of thing." Instead, she said she was taken to an area away from her family where she was interrogated by security and police.
"I sat there for two-and-a-half hours, really not sure what was going to happen," she told WPLG. "The way that they treated me was like a criminal."
In the end, authorities decided not to allow Van Veldhuizen on the ship. Not wanting to vacation without her, her family also decided not to go on the cruise.
Carnival's guidelines note that the company conducts security scanning of all luggage, and that CBD products are prohibited at sea.
"Thile 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 guidelines say.
After returning home, Van-Veldhuizen received a letter from Carnival saying she was now banned from its cruise ships for life.
In a statement to WPLG, a Carnival spokesperson said the company is 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," the statement said.
In 2018, the U.S. Congress passed and signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act which removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing CBD if it comes from hemp. However, CBD-infused products for therapeutic uses have not received approval by FDA and are therefore considered unapproved drugs, which are illegal.
Van Veldhuizen told The Washington Post she is currently considering her legal options in the case.