Hong Kong bans CBD, ranking it alongside heroin, cocaine
Hong Kong bans CBD as a “dangerous drug” and imposes harsh penalties for its possession, forcing businesses to shut down.
A new law criminalizing the possession, consumption, and selling of CBD in Hong Kong came into effect on Wednesday, calling the substance a “dangerous drug” and imposing harsh penalties for its possession.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive derivative of the cannabis plant, and it reduces pain, stress, anxiety, and inflammation, without getting its users high.
However, the Hong Kong authorities have said those claims "lack authoritative scientific proof," justifying their ban by arguing the products could be converted into THC, the intoxicating compound that is already illegal in the city.
Penalties include possible life in prison and a fine of up to HK$5 million ($638,000) for those convicted of importing, exporting, or manufacturing CBD.
As for those convicted of the possession or consumption of CBD, they could face seven years in prison and a HK$1 million ($128,000) fine.
In recent years, the popularity of CBD-infused products has surged around the globe, and CBD has become legal in the United States and parts of Europe, as well as in Japan and Thailand.
Read: Switzerland officially legalizes cannabis for medical purposes
In Hong Kong, authorities gave businesses and residents three months to discard any potential contraband before the strict penalties came into effect Wednesday.
Around 77,400 items had been dumped at government bins as of Sunday, according to official data.
Last week, customs officials reminded of the new law and warned of products branded with hemp leaves.