The Tumbledown of the CBD Industry in Hong Kong

Written by Lydia Kariuki

Cannabidiol (CBD) has enjoyed growing acceptability around the globe in the last three years, or ever since it was legalized in the US. But as increasingly more countries move to legalize cannabis-derived compounds such as CBD, a handful seem to be taking a different, and rather unconventional, tangent. Hong Kong is a case in point.

On 1st February 2023,  the possession, use, or distribution of any CBD product became illegal in Hong Kong. Asia’s vertical city declared CBD a “dangerous product” and consequently moved forward with a decision to have CBD listed in the  Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.  This decision came with harsh penalties for those found guilty of breaking the new law. Those found in possession of CBD will face 7 years imprisonment plus a fine of 1 million Hong Kong dollars (127,000 US dollars). The manufacture, importation or exportation of CBD is considered a worse crime that will henceforth attract a life sentence in addition to the 1 million Hong Kong dollar fine. This is in tandem with the penalties imposed for drug trafficking charges.

Hong Kong, like most other Asian countries, has zero tolerance towards drug use. Hong Kong authorities have cited concerns over the lack of scientific evidence on the therapeutic potential of CBD as well as the safety profile of the cannabis-derived commodity. The authorities are also concerned about CBD products containing high levels of the intoxicating cannabinoid THC which is still outlawed in the US under federal law. CBD businesses that had begun mushrooming in Hong Kong had until 31st January to withdraw from the market or face dire consequences.

About the author

Lydia Kariuki