The Hong Kong government announced Oct. 20 that it is banning CBD and will move it to the
Dangerous Drugs Ordinance (DDO), placing it in the same category as heroin,
cocaine, and methamphetamine, starting Feb. 1, 2023.

After Feb. 1, any individual
who manufactures CBD products could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment
and a $5 million fine. Individuals who possess or consume such products could
face up to seven years in prison and a $1 million fine, according to the
release.

CBD products are currently
legal in Hong Kong if they do not contain any traces of THC, the primary
psychoactive constituent of cannabis. THC is illegal in Hong Kong for its
psychoactive properties and is the First Schedule to DDO, according to a
government document.

The government argued while “CBD, in its pure form, is not psychoactive
and is not associated with abuse potential,” according to the “Government
Laboratory (GL), where CBD is extracted from cannabis, it is very difficult to
isolate pure CBD from cannabis, and it would not be practical to completely
remove THC impurities from CBD isolates.”

The government also noted
that CBD products risk cross-contamination of THC during the production process
and that it is “inevitable that CBD products manufactured from CBD isolates
contain certain levels of THC, even though at trace levels or levels below the
detection limits of various analytical methods.”

GL officials added that CBD
could naturally convert into THC when exposed to
carbon dioxide in air and water, as it may act as a catalyst for the conversion.

In addition, GL officials
said scientific research has found CBD could be purposely converted to THC with
a very high yield in an environment like a household kitchen using simple
processes and harnessing commonly available acidic materials. GL officials said they conducted a similar in-house experiment which produced results “with the
yield of conversion of CBD to THC up to 60%.”

Moreover, officials said scientific
literature has reported that “CBD added to e-cigarettes may be converted to
THC, among other cannabinoids, during smoking.”

The government will create disposable boxes for individuals to dispose of their CBD products
at select locations from Oct. 27 to Jan. 20, 2023.

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