Hong Kong bans products containing CBD, allocates places to dump CBD products

CHINA – Hong Kong, where the eligibility of food and non-food products containing cannabidiol (CBD) has been ambiguous, has come out to ban products containing cannabidiol (CBD) from 1 February, with authorities labeling the substance under “Dangerous Drugs Ordinance”.

Products including beverages, oils, and foods containing the substance must be dumped in special boxes set up around the city before the end of the month. CBD is derived from the cannabis plant, but – unlike TBC – it does not get users high.

Penalties for importing, exporting, or producing CBD will carry a punishment of up to life in prison and HKD5m (US$638,000) in fines, while possession carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment and a fine of up to HKD1m.

“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 news briefing.

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

In addition, as Hong Kong maintains a zero-tolerance policy for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the government has pledged that it will continue to test CBD products in the market and seize products found to contain THC.

Authorities said it was “nearly inevitable” CBD products would contain THC as current technology could not remove it from the compound, which might also naturally decompose into the illegal active ingredient.

The decomposition of CBD to THC could take place even under normal storage conditions, while water and carbon dioxide in the air could speed up the process, according to a government laboratory paper.

The ban will force businesses to remove CBD-infused products including gummies, drinks, and oils from the sale, or face shutdown. Hong Kong’s first CBD café – ‘Found’ – opened in 2020.

Many suppliers and food and beverage manufacturers in the sector have associated its purported health benefits, which users claim can treat ailments including anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

The US Food and Drug Administration announced last week there’s not enough data addressing the “various safety concerns” of cannabidiol, or CBD, to regulate the marijuana-derived products as foods or supplements.

The agency argued its regulatory framework for food and supplements provides “limited tools” to mitigate risks associated with CBD products and called on Congress to create a new regulatory pathway.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp and its compounds from the federal controlled substances list, thereby establishing a commercially-available source of CBD.

However, the substance has not been determined to be “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for human consumption by the FDA and being among ingredients placed in FDA-approved drugs.

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