Criminalization of CBD will bring harsh punishment in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong will criminalize CBD early next year, categorizing the compound as a dangerous drug.

Under changes to Hong Kong’s drug control laws expected to take effect Feb. 1, 2023, CBD will be treated the same as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine among some 200 substances classified as “dangerous drugs.”

Stakeholders say the changes will wipe out businesses selling extracts and CBD-infused products such as beers, coffee and health supplements, and halt import trade to Hong Kong.

Jail time, fines

“The trade and the public should arrange early disposal of any CBD products in their possession to avoid contravention of the law,” a government spokesperson said.

Anyone who possesses or consumes CBD faces up to seven years in jail and fines of up to HK$1 million (US$127,000), under the changes.

Hong Kong’s Security Bureau justified the changes by suggesting industry claims that CBD does not produce a psychoactive reaction “lack authoritative scientific proof.”

“Cannabis is a drug, and the government will categorize CBD as a dangerous drug . . . to protect the public’s health,” said John Lee, a former police officer who is Hong Kong’s current chief executive.

Following China’s lead

China last year banned the use of CBD in cosmetic products, a move that analysts said was rooted in revived “anti-drug” education initiatives which view the popularization of beauty products based on cannabis as clashing with government policies aimed at Chinese youth.

The ban was placed against the use of hemp flowers, seed oil and extracts in cosmetics – which had previously been the only CBD-containing products legal to sell to Chinese consumers.

In justifying the law, Chinese authorities said dependable THC tests to assure products are under the national limit of 0.3% are not widely available, and that CBD can easily be replaced by other cosmetic ingredients already well-known to consumers.

Chinese companies producing CBD, all of which must be exported, are reported to have grown more aggressive in seeking foreign sales since the ban took effect. Many have already proven their mettle, with China estimated to be supplying as much as one-third of the world’s CBD.

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