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Hong Kong law enforcement has proposed banning CBD products this year, as cannabis-derived wellness items have recently gained popularity in the city.
The change will make the substance illegal under the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance, meaning those who buy or consume such products can face a maximum of seven years in prison.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of over 100 chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant. CBD is currently legal in Hong Kong as long as it contains no trace of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), another active ingredient found in cannabis that gives users a “high” feeling. THC is listed in the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance.
What you need to know about CBD
Known for its calming effect, CBD can be found in various products such as food, beverages, beauty products, and even pet food. Industry players also claim that it can help customers regulate anxiety and relieve stress.
Most CBD products sold in Hong Kong are imported from overseas, including the United States, Britain, and Europe. CBD oil, depending on its use and quantity, usually costs between HK$150 and HK$480.
Authorities said it was “almost unavoidable” that CBD products would contain THC, as current technology could not remove it from the compound and it could also naturally break down into the illegal active ingredient.
CBD can even be used to treat anxiety in pets. Photo: Nora Tam
Since 2019, about a third – or more than 4,100 items – of samples of CBD products tested at the government lab have been found to contain THC, the main psychoactive substance found in cannabis, according to figures cited in a document submitted to the Legislative Council. . proposing to list CBD as part of the Dangerous Drugs Ordinance in 2022.
Additionally, CBD could be converted into THC with the use of readily available acidic materials, such as vinegar or battery acid, in a home kitchen.
The proposed legislation would prohibit the manufacture, import, export, supply, sale, possession and shipment of any product containing CBD in the city.
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What is your general opinion on the presence of CBD in food, drink, beauty products and pet food, and why?
What are the reasons given in Context for the proposed CBD ban?
News: Retailers call for alternatives to CBD ban
CBD specialist shops have urged the government to explore alternatives to the outright ban currently on the table.
Although most city lawmakers supported the proposed amendment, industry players expressed reservations, arguing that they should be allowed to sell such products as long as the items have passed lab tests and are securely verified.
“The legislation is a comprehensive approach. I think there is still room for discussion. The current regulations are sufficient [to protect residents from THC]said Keith Wong Tsz-wai, executive director of the Community Drug Advisory Council.
How drug legalization could benefit Hong Kong
Wong suggested an alternative law requiring companies to perform lab tests to ensure THC was not included in their products.
The registered social worker said he had not heard of any cases where the use of CBD led to people also using cannabis. He added that it was a “myth” that cannabis users would turn to CBD to help reduce the health effects caused by the drug.
Anthony To, one of the owners of Cannable, a CBD spa and skincare store in Sheung Wan, said there was no alternative for his store but to forego using CBD products if the proposed amendments were adopted.
CBD products available at Cannabis CBD Spa & Treatment in Sheung Wan. Photo: Nora Tam
The CBD items used by his store had passed lab tests certifying that they did not contain THC, he added. “We were quite shocked,” he said. “Many countries have legalized the use of CBD.”
Another store owner selling CBD oils said the proposed ban was bad news for the industry.
“CBD products help people with sleep issues because they can be used instead of painkillers to help them sleep naturally,” said the owner, who wished to remain anonymous.
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The store had liquidated its stock of CBD products by selling them at discounted prices, and had already stopped importing them. It would return all remaining goods to suppliers if the changes were adopted.
Despite the protests, lawmakers supporting the measure say banning CBD will help prevent drug abuse.
“In recent years, there has been an increase in cannabis use. To prevent future long-term abuse, we will take a hard line against all dangerous drugs and cannabis,” Narcotics Commissioner Kesson Lee told lawmakers at the Safety Group earlier this month.
Why might some people choose to use CBD as a pain reliever or for sleep, as opposed to medication?
Some argue that it is hypocritical to allow the sale of drugs like alcohol, but to ban CBD. To what extent do you agree with this argument, and why?
Many people use CBD oil to relieve stress and anxiety. Photo: Shutterstock
Problem: Hong Kong police warn as more under-21s are found using cannabis
More young people in Hong Kong have been found using cannabis, and authorities believe they may be unaware of the dangers because recreational use of the drug has been legalized in some countries, such as Canada and some States of the United States.
The number of people under the age of 21 who allegedly used cannabis rose 48%, from 326 in 2020 to 483 last year, according to data from the Security Bureau’s Narcotics Division. The number of under-21s involved in cannabis-related offenses also increased by 35%, from 191 in 2020 to 257 last year.
Superintendent Theodora Lee Wai-see of the police’s Narcotics Bureau said more than half of the city’s known drug users under the age of 21 had used cannabis in the past year, reflecting a trend towards the rise in such abuse among adolescents.
CBD comes from the marijuana blueprint, but lacks the active ingredient that gets people high. Photo: Shutterstock
According to Sam Szeto Kam-san, a social worker at the Hong Kong Playground Association, many young people use drugs to manage or distract them from their problems. He led a youth outreach team in Yau Tsim Mong district and knew about 50 young drug addicts. Four out of five had used cannabis between a few months and a few years.
Szeto urged parents to communicate more with their children and to be attentive to whether they are having emotional problems or are interested in cannabis. Parents could also look for imprints of cannabis leaves on their children’s clothes, references to the number 420 – the street code for the substance – and be aware of its distinctive smell.
Professor Tang Wai-kwong, from the Department of Psychiatry at Chinese University, has warned that cannabis can be harmful to the physical and mental health of users.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in the United States, the use of marijuana, particularly frequently (daily or almost daily) and in large doses, can cause disorientation and unpleasant thoughts or feelings of anxiety and paranoia.
People who use marijuana are more likely to develop temporary psychosis (not knowing what is real, hallucinations, and paranoia) and long-lasting mental disorders, including schizophrenia (a type of mental illness where people can see or hear things that are not there).
The association between marijuana and schizophrenia is stronger in people who start using marijuana at an earlier age and who use it more frequently.
Do the views presented in Issue agree or conflict with those of News? Explain your answer.
Identify ONE issue mentioned in the issue regarding the upward trend in teenage marijuana use and explain ONE way the government can reduce the rate of drug use.
Should high school students take a drug test?
What does the term “space lettuce” refer to and why? Why would the police use a sentence like this? Explain using information from the context and the glossary.
What does the cartoon suggest about how the government views marijuana and CBD? How can you use Context to support this view? Explain your answer.
cannabis: a tall plant with a stiff erect stem, divided serrated leaves and glandular hairs. It is used to produce hemp fiber and as medicine.
cannabidiol: more commonly known as CBD, it is one of over 100 chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant or its close relative, hemp. CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant and diluting it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or hemp seed oil. It can be found in a variety of products online and in stores, including dietary supplements, baths, beverages, and foods. While CBD is being studied as a medical treatment, more research is needed to determine the other benefits and safety of CBD, as it also carries certain risks and side effects.
Dangerous Drugs Ordinance: A law which states that possession of a dangerous drug is punishable by imprisonment of up to seven years and a fine of HK$1 million in Hong Kong. Anyone who traffics, including sells or distributes any amount of dangerous drugs, is liable on conviction to a fine of HK$5,000,000 and life imprisonment.
tetrahydrocannabinol: abbreviated as THC, it is the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis that induces the feeling of getting high. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive.
420: a slang phrase that refers to smoking marijuana around 4:20 p.m., or being open to smoking the plant in general. It also refers to the cannabis-related celebrations that take place annually on April 20 for those involved in the grow.