Why Has Hong Kong Moved to Ban CBD Products?

Why Has Hong Kong Moved to Ban CBD Products?

CBD will soon be listed as a dangerous drug in Hong Kong.

1 September 2022 | Hannah Rubery

Why Has Hong Kong Moved to Ban CBD Products? (image)

It should come as no surprise that CBD has proven popular with Hong Kong’s inhabitants, like much of the world. With a history of natural herbal remedies to cure ailments, CBD seemed like just another natural jump. The CBD business boomed in Hong Kong once it was made legal in 2018, with businesses popping up to offer CBD-infused food and drink. But as of 2022, there have been moves to change the legal status of CBD in Hong Kong.

News on Hong Kong banning CBD

Recently, news has broken from Hong Kong, arguably one of the most popular countries for CBD manufacture and commerce, that they have proposed to move CBD to the dangerous drugs ordinance (DDO). This means that CBD will no longer be able to be manufactured, imported, exported, supplies, sold, possess or tranship CBD (except for prescribed CBD products for medical purposes, or have a license issued by the Department of Health).

In Hong Kong, possession of a dangerous drug is punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years and a $127,000 fine. Those convicted of trafficking will be liable to pay a fine of $637,000 and life imprisonment.

What makes CBD so popular?

As mentioned before, natural remedies are highly popular in Hong Kong, and CBD being a natural compound from the hemp plant, was added to that category despite no confirmation of medicinal benefits from the FSA. There is still more research necessary to look at the benefits of CBD, so no medical claims can be made about CBD products. Non-medically licensed CBD cannot be used to treat or remedy any illness, but users may notice pleasant benefits.

Despite this, CBD has proven very popular in Hong Kong, probably due to the normal use of herbal remedies. Especially during Covid, many turned to CBD in hopes of seeing potential benefits.

Why the ban on CBD?

The ban on CBD has occurred as part of Hong Kong’s ongoing battle against drugs including their zero-tolerance policy on THC products. Like most countries, THC is a banned substance due to its psychoactive effects. However, it’s not as simple as some products being sold that contain traces of THC. Local authorities in Hong Kong have made claims that CBD degrades into THC and that current technology is not able to remove the trace amounts.

This was noted after Hong Kong law enforcement agencies seized more than 4,100 items. Of these, a third was found to contain THC after testing conducted by Government laboratories.

Industry leaders in Hong Kong have proposed more laboratory testing at government-authorised laboratories to ensure their products have no THC. Many businesses make the effort to ensure their products are THC-free, but we have yet to hear if this suggestion will bear any fruit.

The suggestion that CBD can degrade into THC is an interesting topic. Studies have noted that CBD when in a highly acidic environment, can degrade into THC. The suggestion is that CBD taken orally which is then digested could potentially degrade into THC in your stomach. There are a few variables involved with this however, this potential outcome only applies to digested CBD oil (the majority of CBD users take CBD via other methods that bypass the digestive system). Human studies on such things have found no results in CBD converting to THC.

Studies have also looked at this in CBD users, some claiming the same worry as the Hong Kong government, while others noted that users experienced the opposite expected effects of someone who would have taken THC. A problem with some studies that noted CBD degrading into THC, were studies that looked at the chemical reaction in a lab setting, and not in human users.

Generally, countries that have legalised CBD note that it is a well-tolerated, and safe compound for use. Due to its popularity, there is a lot of ongoing research into CBD, its effects and benefits, so hopefully, with more research coming to light, more informed decisions can be made by governments.