Hong Kong will ban CBD, labeling it a “dangerous drug”

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong will ban CBD starting Wednesday, classifying it as a “dangerous drug” and demanding stiff penalties for its smuggling, production and possession, customs authorities announced Friday.

Supporters say that CBD can treat a variety of ailments, including anxiety, and that unlike its more famous cousin THC, which is already illegal in Hong Kong, CBD doesn’t get users high. Cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis plant, was previously legal in Hong Kong, where bars and shops sold products containing it.

But Hong Kong authorities decided last year to ban the marijuana-derived substance, a change that will soon take effect. Residents were given three months from October 27 to dispose of their CBD products in special boxes set up throughout the city.

“From February 1, cannabidiol, also known as CBD, will be considered a dangerous drug and will be supervised and administered by the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance,” customs intelligence officer Au-Yeung Ka-lun said at a conference. press.

“From then on, the transportation of CBD for sale, including import and export, as well as the production, possession and consumption of CBD, will be illegal,” Au-Yeung said.

Penalties include up to life in prison and Hong Kong $5 million ($638,000) in fines for importing, exporting or producing CBD. Possession of the substance can result in a sentence of up to seven years and Hong Kong $1 million ($128,000) in fines.

In announcing the ban last year, the Hong Kong government cited the difficulty of isolating pure CBD from cannabis, the possibility of THC contamination during the production process, and the relative ease with which CBD can be converted to THC.

“We will tackle all kinds of dangerous drugs from all angles and all ends, and intelligence-led enforcement action is our main goal,” Chan Kai-ho, division commander of the Airport Command of the Air Force, told reporters on Friday. department.

Despite the harsh penalties imposed, Chan said authorities would handle the application on a case-by-case basis and would “seek legal advice from our Department of Justice to determine what future actions will be.”

Hong Kong maintains several categories of “dangerous drugs”, which include “hard drugs” such as heroin and cocaine, as well as marijuana.

Hong Kong’s first CBD cafe opened in 2020 and the ban will force dozens of businesses to remove CBD-infused gummies, drinks and other products, or close entirely.

The ban is in line with a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs in Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous commercial hub in southern China, as well as in mainland China, where CBD was banned in 2022..

Chinese authorities have waged battles against heroin and methamphetamine, particularly in the southwest, bordering the drug-producing Golden Triangle region, which encompasses parts of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

Criminal penalties are also imposed for both the sale and use of marijuana. In one of the most high-profile cases, Jaycee Chan, the son of Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan, served a six-month sentence. in 2014-2015 for allowing people to consume marijuana in his Beijing apartment amid a crackdown on illegal narcotics in the Chinese capital.

At the same time, China has been a major source of precursor chemicals used to make the dangerous drug fentanyl, a trade often facilitated through social media.

A thriving Asian financial center with a thriving commercial port and a major international airport, Hong Kong is a key entry point to China, as well as a market for some drugs, especially cocaine. Police recently seized hundreds of kilograms (pounds) of the drug worth tens of millions of dollars, some of it hidden in a shipment of chicken feet from Brazil.

Most Asian nations maintain strict drug laws and apply severe penalties to offenders, including the death penalty.with the exception of Thailand, which legalized the cultivation and possession of marijuana last year.

The CBD policy debate continues in many countries and regions.

The US Food and Drug Administration said Thursday there is not enough evidence on CBD to confirm that it is safe for consumption in food or as a dietary supplement. He called on Congress to create new rules for the growing and massive market.

Marijuana-derived products have become increasingly popular in lotions, tinctures, and foods, while their legal status has been murky in the US, where several states have legalized or decriminalized substances that remain federally illegal. .


News assistant Caroline Chen contributed to this report from Beijing.

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