Hong Kong will ban CBD starting Wednesday, categorizing it as a “dangerous drug” and mandating harsh penalties for its smuggling, production and possession, customs authorities announced Friday.
Supporters say CBD can treat a range of ailments including anxiety and that, unlike its more famous cousin THC — which is already illegal in Hong Kong — CBD doesn’t get users high. Cannabidiol, derived from the cannabis plant, was previously legal in Hong Kong, where bars and shops sold products containing it.
But Hong Kong authorities decided last year to prohibit the marijuana-derived substance — a change that will soon go into effect. Residents were given three months from Oct. 27 to dispose of their CBD products in special boxes set up around the city.
“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,” Au-Yeung said.
Penalties include up to life in prison and Hong Kong $5 million ($638,000) in fines for importing, exporting or producing CBD. Possession of the substance can result in a sentence of up to seven years and Hong Kong $1 million ($128,000) in fines.