Hong Kong – Hong Kong banned CBD as a “dangerous drug” and imposed stiff penalties for its possession on Wednesday, forcing start-ups to close or remodel.
Proponents say CBD, or cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis plant, is stress and inflammation without getting users high, unlike its more famous cousin THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that has long been illegal in Hong Kong. CBD was once legal in the city, and cafes and shops selling CBD-infused products were popular among young people.
But a ban announced by the government last year that took effect Wednesday has changed all that. CBD-related businesses have closed, while others are struggling to rebuild their businesses. dumped what they saw as cures for ailments into special collection boxes set up throughout the city.
The new rules reflect a zero-tolerance policy for dangerous drugs in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous business hub in southern China, and in mainland China, where CBD will be banned in 2022.
The city maintains several categories of “dangerous drugs”, including “hard drugs” such as heroin and cocaine.
In explaining the policy change, the Hong Kong government cited the difficulty of separating pure CBD from cannabis, the potential for THC to be mixed in during the manufacturing process, and the relative ease of converting CBD to THC. I mentioned
Customs officials last week pledged to do more to help residents understand that CBD is banned in Hong Kong, even though it’s legal elsewhere.
Starting Wednesday, possession of CBD can lead to up to seven years in prison and a fine of HK$1 million ($128,000). Those found guilty of importing, exporting or manufacturing substances could face up to life imprisonment and her HK$5 million ($638,000) fine.
Some users said the ban shows the international financial hub is going backwards.
“It doesn’t look like a cosmopolitan city,” said Jennifer Law, owner of CBD Bakery, which will start selling CBD-infused cheesecakes, cookies and drinks in 2021.
Even before the ban went into effect, she said, her business had all but dried up.
“The banning rumors have affected the way I do business,” she said. “Some platforms took me offline without saying a word.
To comply with the ban, Law said he would have to throw out all of his remaining inventory, including dozens of cookies, and rebrand his business.
Several other vendors have closed, including the city’s first CBD cafe, which opened in 2020.
Karena Tsoi, who has used CBD skin care products for two years to treat eczema, said she needs to find another treatment.
“Troublesome,” she said. “Governments don’t need to regulate like this.”
With the exception of Thailand, which legalized the cultivation and possession of marijuana last year, most Asian countries have strict drug laws with stiff penalties.
Elsewhere, the debate about CBD continues.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said last week that there wasn’t enough evidence to confirm that CBD is safe to consume as a food or dietary supplement. It called on Congress to create new regulations for the growing market.
Although marijuana-derived products are becoming increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures, and foods, their legal status is ambiguous in the United States, with several states legalizing or decriminalizing substances that are still illegal by the federal government. It’s criminalized.
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