Hong Kong authorities proposed to ban CBD products later this year, after finding that a third of items sold in the city contained traces of THC, which is illegal in the country.
Under the new regulations, the manufacture, import, export, sale, and possession of CBD would be illegal. Authorities claim that while CBD is not considered psychoactive, it is difficult to extract without THC.
“We think there will be a period before the new legislation comes into force, say around three months, so that traders and customers who have purchased CBD products can dispose of them before the entry into force of the legislation,” Narcotics Commissioner Kesson Lee said.
Lee added that the government would consider setting up collection points for people to dispose of their CBD.
The fear of THC
Since 2019, about a third – out of more than 4,100 products – of samples of CBD products tested at the government lab were found to contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), according to figures cited by the newspaper.
Hong Kong authorities have long taken a zero-tolerance approach to any amount of cannabis and THC-containing products, citing health risks and addiction issues.
Currently, the use of CBD is legal in Hong Kong, and the trend is to increase the presence of products infused with this substance, whether CBD oils, infused drinks or dishes offered in restaurants.
Kesson Lee explained that it is difficult to completely remove THC impurities in CBD isolates, adding that CBD can break down naturally or be intentionally converted into THC. He added that China has banned the use of CBD in cosmetics and food since last year.
The CBD industry in action
CBD industry players have expressed reservations about the government’s position.
“Legislation is a transversal approach. I think there is still room for discussion. Current regulations are sufficient [pour protéger les résidents du THC] said Keith Wong Tsz-wai, executive director of the Community Drug Advisory Council.
Wong instead suggested an alternative law that would require companies to perform lab tests to ensure CBD products do not contain THC.
Anthony To, owners of Cannable, a CBD spa and wellness store in Sheung Wan, told the Bangkok Post that his store has no choice but to abandon the use of CBD products if the proposed amendments were adopted.
The CBD products his store uses and sells had passed lab tests certifying that they did not contain THC, he added.
“We were quite shocked,” he said. “This is because many countries have legalized the use of CBD. We haven’t seen any place [ou ville] prohibiting its use. »
In Hong Kong, possession of a dangerous drug is punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine of 1 million Hong Kong dollars (€120,000).