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Hong Kong’s ‘Dangerous Drug’ CBD Ban to Begin

Hong Kong has banned CBD, categorizing it as a hazardous drug, in a strikingly different way than the U.S.A., and others around the world. It will begin on Wednesday.

Time reports that beginning on Wednesday, harsh penalties and huge fines—typically associated with hard narcotics—will be applied to people in Hong Kong caught in the possession, production, or smuggling of CBD.

Following in the footsteps of measures laid out in mainland China, Hong Kong’s CBD ban was announced last year, when government officials cited the difficulty of distinguishing pure CBD from THC, and the possibility of contamination during the production process. They also cited the way CBD can be converted to THC—typically in the production of delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids.

The following is an extract from the Hong Kong Free PressIn June, the Hong Kong Legislative Council Panel on Security declared that it was going to ban CBD. Officials in Hong Kong began to clamp down on CBD business owners. From Oct. 27, residents were allowed three months to get rid of CBD products from special containers set up in the city.

Within days, the CBD will be outlawed in every semi-autonomous administrative area.

“Starting from February 1, cannabidiol, aka CBD, will be regarded as a dangerous drug and will be supervised and managed by the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance,” customs intelligence officer Au-Yeung Ka-lun said at a press briefing.

“As of then, transporting CBD for sale, including import and export, as well as producing, possessing and consuming CBD, will be illegal,” Au-Yeung said.

People who import, export, or produce CBD could face life imprisonment and a fine of up to $5 million in Hong Kong ($638,000). The maximum sentence for anyone caught with CBD is seven years. Hong Kong fines are $1 million ($128,000).

“We will tackle all kinds of dangerous drugs from all angles and all ends, and the intelligence-led enforcement action is our major goal,” Chan Kai-ho, a divisional commander with the department’s Airport Command, told reporters Friday.

Chan said authorities would enforce the law on a case-by-case basis and “seek legal advice from our Department of Justice to determine what the further actions will be.”

South China Morning PostAccording to reports, the department has seized over 4,100 CBD products that contained THC traces since 2019. Authorities arrested 38 individuals in connection to 68 CBD cases that contained THC between January 2018 and December 2022.

Hong Kong customs officials arrested nine people, seizing 25,000 CBD items worth  $14.6 million Hong Kong dollars after the products were found to contain traces of an illegal cannabinoid in January 2022.

It’s quite a change from 2020, when Hong Kong’s first CBD cafe opened, selling a full range of CBD-based cannabis products including vials of CBD oil for personal use, powders to be added to foods such as oil and butters, and other products, including products for pets who need pain relief. The cafe also offered CBD-infused tea and coffee to those who wanted their CBD products. 

CBD, which is a component of CBD, has been outlawed in cosmetics and all synthetic cannabinoids. But keep in mind that China is blamed as one of the world’s major sources of fentanyl precursors. In China, synthetic cannabinoids tend to be mixed more often with other drugs.

Jaycee Chan (son of Jackie Chan in Hong Kong) was sentenced to six months for holding a gathering with cannabis in his Beijing home. It was during the crackdown against illegal drugs within the city.