The Hong Kong government is seeking to ban the use of cannabidiol (CBD) within a year. On Tuesday, lawmakers said they would support the plan to make the manufacture, import, export, sale and possession of the cannabis derivative illegal.
CBD has become popular in recent years in drinks, snacks and health supplements. Though not psychoactive, it often contains small traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is illegal in Hong Kong.
According to the Security Bureau’s legislative paper, the authorities have carried out over 120 operations against those selling or importing CBD and found that a third of 4,100 seized items contained THC since 2019.
The paper suggested that CBD should be classed as a dangerous drug. However, it also stated that pure CBD did not have abuse potential, nor could users get “high.” However, “it is very difficult to isolate pure CBD from cannabis, and it would not be practical to completely remove THC impurities from CBD isolates.”
It added that CBD could be purposefully converted into THC, with a very high yield, or could naturally decompose into THC.
“The Government all along maintains a firm stance against drugs and does not tolerate any level of THC in non-pharmaceutical products, as part of our long-standing anti-drug policy,” the paper said.
According to RTHK, Federation of Trade Unions legislator Bill Tang urged the government on Tuesday to ask boy band Mirror or other pop idols like Hins Cheung to promote anti-drugs messages.
Commissioner for Narcotics Kesson Lee agreed to invite young celebrities to take part in such a campaign.
Uptick in cannabis use
The number of reported cannabis abusers increased by a third to 994 in 2021, whilst abusers aged under 21 increased almost 50 per cent from 326 to 483, according to the Security Bureau.
Drug trafficking carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, whilst the cultivation of cannabis plants attracts a HK$100,000 fine or up to 15 years behind bars. Possession or consumption of controlled drugs can result in fines of up to HK$1 million and seven years in prison.
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