Along with heroin, CBD is classified as a “dangerous drug” in Hong Kong.

Cannabidiol was extremely popular in Hong Kong two years ago. Businesses eager to enter an exciting new market that is now well-established in nations all over the world began to stock the substance, known as CBD, in cafes, restaurants, and shops.

All of that changed on Wednesday when CBD was made illegal in the city and classified as a “dangerous narcotic” on par with heroin and fentanyl.

A substance called CBD is present in hemp and marijuana plants. Since it is non-psychoactive and won’t make you high, CBD is frequently advertised for a variety of uses, including easing pain and inflammation and lowering tension and anxiety.

With manufacturers include it in shampoos, beverages, body oils, gummy bears, and dog treats, it has experienced a recent spike in popularity on a global scale. It may be available in coffee shops, farmers’ markets, high-end department stores, mom-and-pop shops, and even CVS, in the United States and Europe.

On August 11, 2022, CBD cookies will be sold at the Found cafe in Hong Kong.
On August 11, 2022, CBD cookies will be sold at the Found cafe in Hong Kong.
Lam Yik/Getty Images/Bloomberg
However, a draft law prohibiting CBD was presented to lawmakers in Hong Kong in June and became operative on February 1.

The new law makes it illegal to possess or consume any amount of CBD, and doing so is punished by seven years in jail and a $127,607 fine. CBD manufacturing, importing, or exporting carries a life sentence.



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The government has issued a warning not to take the chance of “purchasing these products or bringing them back to Hong Kong,” adding that even travelers could face punishment.

Cannabis, popularly known as marijuana, is subject to the same laws, punishments, and restrictions.

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Businesses that specialize in CBD have had to shut down as a result of the ban, and other companies have had to reduce or eliminate their CBD product offerings.

Luke Yardley, the owner of Yardley Brothers Craft Brewery, which has previously sold four CBD-containing products—a lager and three nonalcoholic beverages—said, “It’s a shame because there’s a squandered opportunity for sure. “I believe that anything that promotes relaxation and that you can’t get drunk on is definitely a good thing.”

The health discussion
The advantages and drawbacks of CBD for health have long been contested. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the majority of CBD products in the US, allowing consumers to buy products off the shelf.

According to some research, the substance can reduce pain and may be helpful for people who have difficulties falling asleep. One CBD-containing medication has FDA approval to treat severe, uncommon kinds of epilepsy.

However, concerns have also been voiced, with some experts claiming that there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of CBD or any potential side effects.

According to the FDA, “We have not found appropriate evidence to indicate how much CBD can be consumed, and for how long, before causing harm.” in January, CBD products will need a new regulatory process in the US.

On August 11, 2022, books about CBD will be available at the Found cafe in Hong Kong.
On August 11, 2022, books about CBD will be available at the Found cafe in Hong Kong.
Lam Yik/Getty Images/Bloomberg
The government of Hong Kong, which has severe cannabis legislation, is worried about the potential presence of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the sister chemical of CBD, in CBD products. Cannabis plants contain THC, which is what gives users a “high.”

Even 0.3% of THC, which is considered to be a tiny quantity in the US and Europe, is not permitted in Hong Kong for CBD products. While employing a pure form of CBD could prevent this trace level in CBD products, most producers combine it with other substances for greater potency.

According to Secretary for Security Tang Ping-keung, Hong Kong police conducted roughly 120 “operations” from early 2022 to 2019 to seize and analyze CBD products from restaurants, stores, and warehouses. Although he did not provide any information on the amount or percentage of THC in those products, he continued by saying that more than 3,800 products had been found to contain THC.

Tang said in a written response to concerns posed in the Legislative Council that CBD should be treated similarly to THC in terms of government policy, “to preserve public health.”

We have a “zero tolerance” policy toward narcotics, and we recognize that this is an issue of public concern, he added. “As a result, the government intends to regulate CBD.”

The Action Committee Against Narcotics, a group that advises the government on anti-drug policy and is composed of representatives from “the fields of social work, education, medicine, and community service,” stated in a statement last November that it supported the CBD ban and the government’s objective of “a drug-free Hong Kong.”

Hard-hit businesses
A lot of companies started preparing for regulatory changes in 2022 before the government made its official announcement in this January.

In preparation for the prohibition, Yardley Brothers Craft Brewery stopped producing its CBD beverages in late 2017. By the time December rolled around, Yardley claimed that all of its remaining stock had been consumed.

He claimed that the CBD beverages, which made up about 8% of sales, had been “extremely successful” since they gave people a non-alcoholic choice to enjoy when out with friends. Regulars “come in every weekend for a glass of CBD lemonade” at some establishments, he claimed.

Consumers in Hong Kong now have fewer options. That might not be a step in the right direction, he added.

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Hong Kong’s first CBD cafe is operating despite tight cannabis regulations.
Some businesses have had to entirely shut down.

A restaurant called Med Chef, which debuted in 2021, once stated that it has the “first comprehensive menu of CBD-infused cocktails, snacks, and entrees” in Hong Kong. The restaurant’s founder highlighted the health and wellness advantages of CBD in a news release during its launch.

But by the beginning of November 2022, it had shut down. The restaurant said in a goodbye Instagram post, “We have worked hard in the past to provide CBD in its most acceptable form and integrate our cuisine and beverage concepts. “It’s unfortunate that things didn’t turn out as we had intended. We eventually can’t move on with everyone under the most recent policies of those in power.

When it launched in 2020, Hong Kong’s first CBD cafe, Found, garnered media attention. It offered a range of CBD products, including infused coffee and beer, slumber-inducing oils, food-sprinkling powder, and items for pets to help with tight joints.

By the end of September 2022, it had closed, and on Instagram, it had informed customers that their favorable comments had demonstrated that “CBD might assist to cope with the stresses of daily life.”

Sadly, it has now become apparent that the Hong Kong government plans to introduce new legislation to restrict the sale and possession of CBD, despite the clearly positive effects, it stated.

Yardley stated that while the government’s concerns regarding THC were legitimate, better controls might have been put in place, such as establishing certificates or safety requirements for CBD samples.

To simply outright outlaw it is such a drastic measure, he said.

While the brewery will continue to run and Yardley wants to offer substitute nonalcoholic drinks to cover the void, he hopes to bring back CBD. In the future, he remarked, “I hope that it might become lawful again.”

The information on the proposed legislation and its introduction has been updated in this article.

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