Carnival Cruises will continue to deploy drug detection dogs to search for pot and other drugs, according to a brand ambassador who confirmed the cruise line’s drug policy Tuesday.
Don’t plan on smoking if you’re vacationing on a cruise: Carnival Cruise Line (CCL), Royal Caribbean (RCL), Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH), and every other major cruise line operating or departing U.S. ports bans cannabis consumption on-board. Most display “Drug Free Zone” signs aboard and employ a zero tolerance policy.
Cruise lines follow federal law, which trumps state laws, even though their ships are not flagged in the U.S., so cannabis is prohibited in nearly every circumstance. The open seas are not actually lawless and laws typically extend miles from shore, and most cruises stop in multiple countries.
The Gwinnett Daily Post reports that Carnival Cruise won’t be changing its policy on cannabis anytime soon, after a brand ambassador clarified the cruise line’s efforts to control cannabis use on-board.
“As for the drug detection dogs, well let me say that they have, along with our no tolerance rules and enforcement, made a massive difference to the problem of people thinking it is legal and allowed to use marijuana on their cruise. It isn’t,” Carnival Brand Ambassador John Heald posted on his Facebook page on May 23.
Some cruise guests complained of the weed smell that is common on cruises. Passengers say they get it while ships dock on ports and when they venture into the city.
“They really need more drug dogs when we are getting back on the ship because people pick up drugs in ports and that is when I smell marijuana on the balconies,” a commenter named Janet replied on Heald’s page.
Problems with Drug Sniffing Dogs and Cannabis
There are a handful of problems with using dogs to sniff out drugs and pot. Commenters raised concerns about allergies to dogs that might be interfering with privacy.
Heald continued, “These uber intelligent and highly trained dogs are used at embarkation and occasionally, not every cruise on every ship will sail as well with their handlers. Again, the ships are large enough for this [to] not be a concern for anyone who is allergic…”
It turns out that the Washington Post asked this same question last March, and a CCL representative confirmed the cruise line’s cannabis policy.
“In case there’s any confusion, let me remind guests that while marijuana and cannabis products may be legal in some states, we are required to follow federal law irrespective of the law in the state where you may be boarding your ship,” CCL President Christine Duffy told the Washington Post.
Since dozens of states have legalized cannabis in one form or another, drug dogs in general are losing their jobs in droves. In other cases, drug-sniffing dogs are getting trained to ignore cannabis. Why? A major exposé from The Chicago Tribune in 2011 claimed that drug-sniffing dogs can pick up on and follow the biases and prejudices of their handlers.
It’s not just dogs. China enlists drug-sniffing red squirrels, while honeybees could soon be the next natural drug locator. Researchers at the University of Cologne in Germany recently published a study in the journal Plos One, entitled “Detection of Illicit Drugs by Trained Honeybees,” showing the promise they have in law enforcement.
Cruise passengers who are caught with cannabis are typically punished quickly, and often kicked off the cruise at the next port.
Benjamin M. Adams is Staff Writer at High Times, and has written for Vice, Forbes, HuffPost, The Advocate, Culture, and many other publications. He holds a Bachelor of Communication from Southern New Hampshire University.