A law in Hong Kong that penalizes the possession, consumption and sale of cannabidiol (CBD) went into effect on Wednesday (1), putting this substance on the same level of legality as heroin and cocaine.
CBD, a cannabis molecule with no psychotropic effect, is used for its impact on pain reduction, stress, anxiety, and for its anti-inflammatory properties, according to its users.
The Hong Kong authorities, however, consider that these effects are not based on “solid scientific evidence” and justify their ban by claiming that CBD-based products can be transformed into tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, a psychoactive molecule from the cannabis plant), a substance that is no longer authorized in the territory.
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CBD thus joins the list of more than 200 “dangerous” substances banned in Hong Kong.
From now on, its import, export and production can carry penalties of up to life imprisonment and fines of up to five million Hong Kong dollars ($640,000).
Possessing or consuming CBD can carry a penalty of up to seven years in prison and a fine of one million Hong Kong dollars (US$127,000).
Products containing cannabidiol have grown in popularity around the world in recent years: candy, coffee, beer and even cosmetics have hit the market, in an industry that will total $47 billion by 2028, up from $4.9 billion in 2021.
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