Hong Kong bans CBD as “dangerous drug” and imposes harsh penalties for its possession, forcing the many businesses that sell it to close or renovate.
Many studies claim that CBD, derived from the cannabis plant, can help relieve stress and inflammation without “busting” the user, unlike its more famous cousin THCthe psychoactive component of marijuana, which has long been illegal in Hong Kong as in many other countries.
Giant flags of the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong displayed in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park
Before the CBD ban, cafes and shops that on the island they sold various products infused with this substance were popular among the local youth. With the ban, CBD-related businesses have shut down, while others are struggling to convert their businesses. What about Hong Kong consumers? They deposited the substance in their possession in special collection boxes, what they considered a cure for their ailments.
The new rule reflects a policy of zero tolerance against drugs on the former British colony controlled by Beijing. To explain the policy change, the government cites the difficulty of isolating pure CBD from the cannabis plant, the possibility of THC contamination during the manufacturing process, and the relative ease with which CBD can be converted into THC..
Under new rules, possession of CBD can result in up to seven years in prison and a HK$1 million fine ($128,000). Those convicted of importing, exporting or manufacturing the substance could face up to life imprisonment and a fine of HK$5 million (US$638,000).
The decision did not go without ill-feeling. Many consumers argue that the ban is further evidence that the island, an international financial hub, is backtracking. “It feels like a city less international‘said the owner of a CBD Bakery that has been selling cheesecakes, biscuits and CBD-infused drinks since 2021. To comply with the ban, she has had to unload all stock, including dozens of biscuits, and will have to rebrand her business.